The revival of the IPO market, when it comes, will give James Bond fans a chance to own a slice of British luxury car maker Aston Martin and could generate enough funds for the group to revive its famous Lagonda brand.
“It’s clear that at some point investors holding equity in an independent company need to devise an exit, and this exit is an IPO that we will do when the time is right,” Chief Executive Ulrich Bez told Reuters on Tuesday.
“Aston Martin is working on achieving a valuation comparable to a luxury goods maker.” Ford Motor Co (F.N) sold Aston Martin for 479 million pounds ($756 million) in March 2007, to a consortium led by David Richards — former Formula 1 Benetton and BAR racing boss — as well as two Kuwaiti funds.
In an interview at the Frankfurt auto show, Bez said he would hope the Lagonda brand would duplicate the success of the sports car maker’s other models, which sold just 600 in 2000 when he took over — almost all in the UK.
“Just as we have revived Aston Martin over the past 10 years, we could do the same with Lagonda. But we would need investors to finance it since we cannot, using just our own cashflow,” he said. “They do not necessarily need to own shares in Aston Martin directly, they could provide funding as limited partners, so a finance investor would be preferable.”
Provided there is a win-win situation for Aston and German carmaker Daimler, the Lagonda could be built using the same architecture as the Mercedes-Benz GL full-size SUV.
When asked about Aston’s international expansion plans, Bez said the company was focused on breaking into the Chinese luxury sports car market, where he expects sales could match those of its domestic UK market almost overnight.
“Two months ago we received the import license we need to officially export cars to China,” he said. “By the end of next year we plan to have 12-15 dealers selling about 1,000 cars, which will constitute about 20 percent of the roughly 5,000 we expect to sell worldwide that year.”
Bez wants a diversified geographical footprint, with a fifth of the sales in China, a fifth in the UK, a fifth in the rest of Europe and a fifth in North America.
Come next year, Aston’s Rapide will also become a genuine “Made in the UK” car, when production of the sleek four-door is moved to Gaydon, central England, from Magna’s MGa.TO Steyr facility in Graz, Austria. “We’ve massively increased the efficiency of Gaydon, especially in the paint shop,” he explained.
Also known for is DBS Volante cabrio and the extravagantly expensive One-77, Aston Martin premiered the V12 Zagato — retailing at 330,000 pounds before tax — at the Frankfurt show.