Ford sells Aston Martin to international consortium

UK motorsport veteran has teamed up with a US banker and two Middle Eastern private equity funds to win the $850 million race for Aston Martin.

US carmaker Ford has raised $848 million by selling Aston Martin, the luxury sports car marquee made famous by the James Bond films, to a buyout consortium led by UK motor racing veteran David Richards.

The Aston Martin DB5

Richards is being backed by two Kuwaiti-based investors, Adeem Investment and Investment Dar, along with US banker John Sinders. Richards, who already has motorsport interests as the founder and chairman of engineering group Prodrive, will join the Aston Martin board as non-executive chairman.

Jefferies, the US investment bank, was responsible for putting together the consortium. Richards said: “Jefferies brought together an international group of strategic and financial investors, as well as numerous advisors, to efficiently analyze and execute this complex transaction.”

Ford, which was advised by UBS, will retain a stake worth $77 million in Aston Martin following the deal, giving the company a total valuation of $925 million. It first bought a 75 percent stake in the firm in 1987, but decided to sell last year as it looked to recover from a record loss-making year. The company recorded a $12.7 billion loss last year, the most in its history.

Since buying the business Ford has boosted production from just 46 cars in 1992 to about 6,500 in 2006. It said the unit was now a profitable concern.

Aston Martin is one of the UK’s most iconic sportscar marques, helped by its regular appearances in the James Bond film series. Bond first drove an Aston Martin on screen in the 1964 film “Goldfinger”, and later models have since appeared in several other Bond films, most recently “Casino Royale”.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.