Earlier this week, reports suggested Canadian billionaire and Formula One team Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll was prepared to buy the a controlling stake in Aston Martin. As the company opened its newest plant to build its first SUV in St. Athan, Wales today, though, it said it was not “actively pursuing” new investors, but that doesn’t mean the company is totally in the clear.
Much is riding on the success of the DBX SUV, and St. Athan could be an asset that turns the company’s recent fortunes around.
“You know what we would have to do if there was an official approach. Beyond that, I can’t comment,” Aston Martin CEO told Reuters at the factory’s opening ceremony. When asked whether significant new investors were in the pipeline, he said: ““We’re certainly not actively soliciting any other participation. That’s not to say it doesn’t come.” Although Palmer staved off rumors that Stroll was poised buy in to the company, the British company is dealing with weaker sales and tumbling stock prices. Right now, Strategic European Investment Group is Aston Martin’s largest investor, as it bought another 3 percent stake in the company in August. Behind that, a Kuwaiti group that bought a stake in the company from Ford in 2007, is the company’s second-largest shareholder.
Necessary for survival
Through highs and lows, booms and busts, Aston Martin has managed to survive for 106 years. The winds are shifting, though, and the global car industry is in the midst of a seismic change that will play out over the next decade. Not just with electrification, but also tackling economies of scale. Partnerships and mergers are struck in the name of reducing costs and increasing profit.
Aston Martin is currently partnered with minority partner Daimler, which provides the company access to technology it doesn’t have to develop itself. Being independent of larger conglomerates, the company can also pivot in new directions more quickly. But it needs to ship units to survive, which is why the success of the DBX launch and the St. Athan plant is crucial to its future.
“There is a perfectly rational route to success in our current state,” Palmer said at today’s opening. The British sports car firm has built a reputation on building some of the world’s most iconic and evocative models, but 2020 may well be a year that takes Aston Martin to the next level as a competitive luxury automaker.
Stay tuned for more updates.