What's really happening?
It was late last week when an interesting but not totally unrealistic report surfaced claiming a Canadian billionaire investor was pursuing a major stake in Aston Martin. Lawrence Stroll, who happens to own one of the finest collections of Ferraris in the world, recently purchased the Force India Formula 1 team, renaming it Racing Point. Thanks to his industry contacts, Stroll is reportedly leading a consortium with the goal of taking control of Aston Martin. Given the automaker's low stock value and lower than expected sales figures, it's not surprising something like this could happen. Only it's (probably) not, according to Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer.
Reuters reports that while Palmer didn't outright deny Stroll's rumored intentions, he clarified the company is sticking with its two main investors, the Kuwait-based Adeem/Primewagon shareholding group at 36 percent and Italy-based Invest Industrial at 31 percent. Daimler owns a four percent share and the rest is publicly held.
"We are certainly not actively soliciting any other participation. That's not to say it doesn't come," Palmer said when asked whether Aston needed a new investor. "You know what we would have to do if there was an official approach. Beyond that, I can't comment." Palmer was speaking at an event marking the occasion of the opening of a new Aston Martin factory in south Wales where the all-new DBX SUV will be built. The DBX, in short, must be successful.
The company posted a pre-tax loss of $118 million in the first nine months of this year. Demand for its sports cars, particularly in Europe, is weaker than expected. "The opening is a hugely important milestone in the company's growth plan and integral to our ambitions as a global luxury brand with a presence in all major sectors of the market," Palmer said during part of the plant's opening ceremony.
There is still great potential in Aston Martin, thanks to its long history, excellent cars, and commitment to performance and luxury. Daimler's small but important stake provides Aston Martin with access to world-class engines, specifically the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that powers both the DBX and Vantage. If Stroll is, in fact, keen on making a move, then now would be a good time when Aston Martin could probably use some additional financial backing.