James Bond carmaker Aston Martin revs up for $8.8b London Stock Exchange IPO

SPH Brightcove Video
Luxury carmaker Aston Martin plans to float on the London Stock Exchange, completing a turnaround for the once perennially loss-making company that could now be valued at up to 5 billion pounds (USD$6.4 billion).
An Aston Martin DB10 car displayed at an event to mark the start of production for James Bond film Spectre at Pinewood Studios in England. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP, REUTERS) - Aston Martin, the British luxury car brand favoured by fictional spy James Bond, announced on Wednesday (Aug 29) plans to list a quarter of its shares on the London stock market.

Full details of the initial public offering will be published on Sept 20, Aston Martin said in a statement, with reports noting that the company could be valued up to £5 billion (S$8.77 billion).

"Today's announcement represents a key milestone in the history of the company, which is reporting strong financial results and increased global demand for its award-winning sports cars," Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer said in the statement.

The century-old carmaker, based in Gaydon in central England, is controlled by Italian private equity fund Investindustrial and Kuwaiti investors.

German carmaker Daimler will, meanwhile, keep its near 5 per cent stake in the group, Aston Martin said.

Founded in London in 1913, Aston Martin rose to fame thanks largely to its DB5 sports car, a favourite of early Bond actor Sean Connery.

Aston Martin sells roughly 25 per cent of its cars to the European Union and operates its only plant in Britain, with a second one due to begin operations in 2019.

But Mr Palmer said he did not think even a bad Brexit deal involving tariffs would have a big impact on the firm.

"We can demonstrate that Brexit is not a major effect for us," he told Reuters.

"If there is a tariff into Europe, it's countered by a tariff into the UK for our competitors, so you might lose a little bit of market share in the EU but you pick it up in the UK," he said.

The plan will involve a secondary sell-down by existing shareholders, mainly Kuwaiti and Italian private equity groups, with a free float of at least 25 per cent.

The firm intends to apply for a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange, with employees and customers able to apply to purchase shares.

Aston, which spent years losing money, last year turned its first profit since 2010 and on Wednesday posted half-year adjusted pre-tax profits of £42 million as revenues rose 8 per cent to £445 million due to strong demand for its DB11 coupe and Volante models.

The central England-based firm said it expected full-year volumes to rise to between 6,200 and 6,400 units and in the medium term, it aims to build nearly 10,000 in the 2020 calendar year.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.