Auto giant Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M)
is moving ahead to buy a majority stake in UK's leading auto major Aston Martin, the makers of luxury sports cars, immortalised by James Bond films.
M&M is keen to access the Aston Martin technology to upgrade its existing vehicle platforms.
The Anand Mahindra-led company's sources confirmed that the company has mounted a serious bid for Aston Martin
. It needs to be mentioned that M&M was in the race for Jaguar Land Rover, which ultimately went to the Tatas. Later, M&M pouched Ssangyong Motors in South Korea.
Aston Martin has been pitchforked to the centre of an international takeover battle
after M&M trumped an Italian bid for a 50-per cent stake in the British luxury carmaker.
Italian private equity fund Investindustrial reached an agreement on Thursday with the owner, Kuwaiti investment house Investment Dar, but M&M made a higher offer on Friday leaving the fate of the 98-year-old icon of British motor engineering hanging in the balance, sources said.
A decision would mark the end of months-long search by Investment Dar to find an investor for Aston Martin, people familiar with the matter had said. For Investment Dar, part of the group that bought Aston Martin from Ford Motor Co for 503 million pounds in 2007, the proceeds would help pay off debt.
The winning bidder would get 50-per cent voting rights and a 40-per cent equity stake. Investment Dar, other Kuwaiti investors and Aston Martin management would retain the rest, sources said.
A source quoted by Reuters said that Investindustrial had bid between 200 million pounds and 250 million pounds for the stake, and is confident of winning the race because it sees its proposal as "technically" superior, including a technical partnership deal with Daimler AG's Mercedes.
Manufacturing would stay at Gaydon in the English heartland under the Italian proposal.
ARCHIVE: BT Oct 10, 2011
M&M is the world number one tractor maker. It also makes more sport utility vehicles than any other Indian auto company and controls Ssangyong Motors.
A spokesman for Investment Dar, which went to the market for a $1-billion debt restructuring last year, was not immediately available for comment. Investindustrial declined to comment.
Investindustrial, owned by Italy's Bonomi family, is not new to luxury motor brands. In 2006, it bought Italian motorcycle maker Ducati and sold it for about 860 million euros last April to Volkswagen's Audi division.
In the past decade, Aston Martin transformed from a smallscale manufacturer of specialist sports cars to one of the world's best-known luxury brands boasting its strongest ever lineup - from the breathtaking One-77 supercar and the elegant yet brutal V12 Zagato to the tailor fit luxury city car, the Cygnet.(With inputs from agencies)