A week after denying it was for sale, Aston Martin has found itself in a bidding war between Indian and Italian buyers. The 98-year-old British brand made famous by the James Bond films was bought by Ford in 1994 and sold to a Kuwaiti investment firm in 2007.
But as with its previous owners, the Kuwaitis haven’t been able to make Aston Martin fly, with an aging line-up and unadventurous design.
The Reuters news agency reported overnight that Italian private equity fund Investindustrial reached a agreement last Thursday with the owner, Kuwaiti investment house Investment Dar, but Indian’s Mahindra made a higher offer on Friday, leaving the fate of the company hanging in the balance.
"Talks are continuing," Reuters quoted a source as saying. The bidders are reportedly offering up to $400 million for a 50 per cent stake in the company; Ford sold the brand outright in 2007 for $848 million. The same source said manufacturing would stay at Gaydon, England under the Italian proposal.
Investindustrial, owned by Italy's Bonomi family, bought Italian motorcycle maker Ducati in 2006 and then sold it for about 860 million Euros last April to Volkswagen's Audi brand. Mahindra is the world number one tractor maker. It's also India’s largest SUV manufacturer and has a controlling stake in South Korean car maker Ssangyong.
Another Indian motor company, Tata Motor, bought British luxury manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover in 2008.