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Ford to sell Aston Martin stake

The maker of exotic $100,000-plus sports cars will be run by a consortium of investors.

March 13, 2007|From the Associated Press

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. confirmed Monday that it was selling a controlling stake in Aston Martin, creator of exotic $100,000-plus sports cars made famous in James Bond movies.

Aston Martin will be run by a consortium of investors consisting of racing mogul David Richards, car collector John Sinders and Kuwaiti companies Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co.

Ford executives announced the sale Monday at Aston Martin's headquarters in Gaydon, England. Ford will receive $848 million and retain a $77-million stake in the company.

Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford, which lost $12.7 billion last year and expects red ink to continue until 2009, put Aston Martin up for sale in August. It acquired control in 1987 and had owned the brand outright since 1994.

Sales dipped to a few dozen in 1992 but climbed to about 7,000 last year. Buyers can get a new Aston Martin for about $110,000, but the price can run as high as $270,000, said Beau Boeckmann, vice president of Galpin Motors in North Hills, one of Aston Martin's top dealers.

Gregg Lemos-Stein, a credit analyst for Standard & Poor's in New York, said Aston Martin didn't fit into Ford's long-term plan to cuts costs by developing multiple models worldwide on the same underpinnings.

Richards is founder and chairman of Prodrive, a British racing and automotive technology company that runs Aston Martin's international sports car racing team. Sinders, from Houston and Dubai, is an Aston Martin collector and racing backer.

The company, which has been profitable under Ford, will have only modest growth in coming years but will remain true to its roots as an iconic British luxury sports car, Richards said.

Ford will continue to provide safety, emissions and other technology to Aston Martin, he said.

"It's a close working relationship that's not just being cut off tomorrow," he told the Associated Press.

While the sale is closing, a process that could take six months, a Ford spokesman said, Aston Martin will continue to maintain its North American marketing headquarters and eight employees at Ford's Premier Automotive Group building in Irvine.

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