Britain's Aston Martin talking to investors as reviews funding


© Reuters. An Aston Martin logo is pictured at the new factory in Saint Athan

(Reuters) – Luxury British carmaker Aston Martin (L:) is in early stage talks with potential investors about building “longer term relationships” which it said on Friday may or may not involve an equity investment, as part of a funding review.

The 106-year firm said in a statement that it was reviewing its funding requirements and various options, following reports of buyers looking at taking a stake.

The Financial Times reported earlier that Aston Martin has held meetings over recent weeks with Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, other carmakers and potential investors from the Middle East, India and China.

Autocar magazine reported last week that Stroll, owner of Formula One team Racing Point, is preparing to buy a major stake in Aston, whose market capitalisation is now only around 1.27 billion pounds ($1.63 billion).

As the car industry consolidates through deals such as the Peugeot (PA:) and Fiat (MI:) merger, Aston has said it does not need to belong to a bigger automotive group, pointing to the success of stand-alone rival Ferrari (MI:).

However, the carmaker has seen its shares slump since its flotation in October 2018 as sales have missed expectations.

Some in the global car industry have turned to partnerships, alliances or mergers to handle the challenge of electrification, new technology and tighter margins.

The sale of a stake could help boost Aston’s prospects as it swung to a third-quarter loss last month, saying its full-year wholesale volumes would be lower than previously guided after slumping demand in Europe and Asia.

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The company’s hopes rest on almost doubling sales with its first SUV, which enters production in 2020, particularly by attracting more female buyers to the brand.

Aston’s stock closed 9.5% lower at 556.8 pence. Its shares were priced at 19 pounds in its October 2018 flotation.

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