Formula One billionaire buys £182m stake in troubled Aston Martin

Time 9:20 am, January 31, 2020

LUXURY sports car-maker Aston Martin Lagonda has sold a £182m stake to a consortium led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll as part of a major fundraiser to protect the future of the British manufacturer.

The company, known for making James Bond’s cars of choice, said it would raise a total of £500m through the group’s investment as well as a £318m rights issue supported by major shareholders.

Rumours about Stroll’s interest in the company started circulating last month, as reported by Car Dealer.

Aston Martin, which earlier this month issued a profit warning, said the consortium – led by the owner of Formula One team Racing Point – had bought a 16.7 per cent stake in the business. However, the consortium has the option to increase its stake to 20 per cent and has said that it will be interested in doing so.

Chairwoman Penny Hughes said Aston Martin’s ‘difficult trading performance in 2019’ put severe pressure on its liquidity and left the company with ‘no alternative’ but to secure significant investment.

‘Without this, the balance sheet is not robust enough to support the operations of the group,’ she said.

‘Notwithstanding recent weak trading, the strength of the Aston Martin brand and our expanding portfolio of cars has allowed us to attract a strong new partner in Mr Stroll to support the turnaround of the business.’

Aston Martin’s Valkyrie, left, and Valhalla

The deal will also reportedly see job cuts. Meanwhile, the Valkyrie hypercar will have its launch this year, with the mid-engined sports car Valhalla to follow.

However, the  Electric Rapid E project has been suspended, according to Autocar, and the Lagonda electric SUV launch, which was originally to take place next year, has been postponed for at least five years.

The car-maker said 2019 was a ‘disappointing year’ after trading fell below expectations because of weak sales of its Vantage model, as well as poor sales across its vehicles in Europe and the UK.

Stroll is also set to join the company’s board as executive chairman, replacing Hughes, as part of the deal.

He said: ‘Aston Martin Lagonda makes some of the world’s most iconic luxury cars, designed and built by very talented people.

‘Our investment announced today underpins the company’s financial security and ensures it will be operating from a position of financial strength.’

Aston Martin president and group chief executive Andy Palmer, who retains his roles, said: ‘The past year has been a regrettably disappointing and challenging time for the company.

‘Today’s fundraising is necessary and provides a platform to support the long-term future of the company.

‘Mr Stroll brings strong and proven expertise in both automotive and luxury brands more widely, which we believe will be of significant benefit to Aston Martin Lagonda.’

Shares in the company surged 28.4 per cent to 516.9p in early trading on Friday.

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