Aston Martin rescued by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll | News | DW | 31.01.2020

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Aston Martin rescued by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll

Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll will lead a consortium hoping to pump around $650 million into the struggling sports car manufacturer. He will also use the Aston Martin name for the F1 team his son Lance drives for.

Canada's billionaire supercar enthusiast Lawrence Stroll is leading a consortium of investors which will claim a 16.7% stake in the company in return for a direct investment of 182 million pounds ($240 million, €216 million). This could rise to a 20% share upon completion of a plan for the company and the investors to raise a total of around 500 million pounds indirectly, in large part via a rights issue from existing shareholders. 

Stroll will also become an executive chairman at Aston Martin as part of the takeover. 

Aston Martin's shares, which had nosedived since the company's 2018 IPO, surged by almost 30% after the announcement before shedding some of those initial gains later in Friday's trading. Even after this rally, though, the stock was still trading at around one-third of the price it commanded last February. The small, British-based Aston Martin, which often buys its core components like engines and transmission systems from larger European manufacturers, had been struggling both with the economic and luxury car slowdown in China as well as with the ramifications of Brexit. The sports car specialist had sought to move into a new market by developing an SUV of its own, but is a relative latecomer to the marketplace.

Like several other car manufacturers concerned about just-in-time production chains crossing a number of borders, the company had openly warned the UK against a so-called hard Brexit. The company has changed hands multiple times over the years. It famously spent almost 20 years underneath the Ford umbrella starting in 1987, and is currently primarily owned by Italian and Kuwaiti private equity groups.

Aston Martin baut 25 James Bond Goldfinger DB5 Filmautos

Aston Martin is perhaps best known as James Bond's carmaker of choice

Britain's mainly foreign-owned automotive sector is already feeling the heat of Brexit before the process even begins at midnight on Friday. Car production in the UK dived 14.2% to 1.3 million vehicles in 2019, the lowest annual level since 2010, figures released on Thursday showed. 

Read more:  Aston Martin is recreating James Bond's 'Goldfinger' DB5

Stroll to give the name to his son's F1 team

Although Lawrence Stroll made his fortune in fashion, he's been a car enthusiast and Ferrari collector for years. 

His son, Lance Stroll, is a professional racing driver competing in Formula 1 for the Racing Point team (formerly known as Force India), which his father rescued from bankruptcy in 2018. 

"He brings with him his experiences and access to his Formula 1 team," Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer told Reuters news agency. "We've talked a lot in the past few years about wanting to be clearly rooted in luxury and obviously Mr. Stroll knows an awful lot about luxury." 

The Racing Point F1 Team will be renamed Aston Martin as a result of the takeover, starting in the 2021 season (all F1 team names are already formally submitted for the new season starting in March, and cannot be changed without financial ramifications).

The Red Bull team, which had a commercial partnership with Aston Martin, also announced on Friday that this would cease at the end of 2020.

Aston Martin had reportedly also been in talks with Chinese carmaker Geely prior to Friday's announcement of the Stroll-led rescue.

msh/kp (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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