Aston Martin revamp has financial backing

Tommaso Ebhardt
Bloomberg News

Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. is considering its first crossover as the maker of the $184,000 DB9 sports car plans to refresh its lineup in the biggest investment plan in the British marque’s history.

Investindustrial SpA, which bought a 37.5 percent stake in the British manufacturer in 2012, has pledged the resources to carry out a growth push that could double Aston Martin’s sales to as many as 8,000 vehicles a year from about 4,000 now.

“Aston has an industrial plan which is growing in its ambitions and we have always planned to participate in all funding needs that Aston has,” Investindustrial Chairman Andrea Bonomi said Tuesday in Milan. “If Aston needs capital, we’re there.”

Bonomi helped recruit Andy Palmer, the former chief planning officer at Nissan Motor Co., to take over as CEO after Aston Martin went a year without a top executive.

The Gaydon, England-based manufacturer is the only global luxury-auto brand that’s not part of a larger group. That makes it tricky for Aston Martin to fund the research and development needed to compete with Volkswagen AG’s Bentley and Fiat Chrysler’s Maserati.

Still, Investindustrial has no plans to sell its holding anytime soon. Bonomi said the investment was made with the intention of keeping it for seven to 10 years, which would give the brand time to develop a new generation of vehicles.

More details on Aston Martin’s plans will be revealed at the Geneva motor show in March. There, Palmer “will give a clear indication of where the brand is going,” including the potential for an Aston Martin sport-utility vehicle, Bonomi said. “We’re at the beginning of the revamp plan.”

A crossover could help Aston Martin broaden its appeal in markets like China, where models aside from sports cars are in demand, Bonomi said. Bentley and Maserati are also developing SUVs.

Buoyed by Investindustrial’s commitment, Aston Martin’s 304 million pounds ($458 million) of 9.25 percent notes due July 2018 rose for a 12th day on Tuesday, climbing 0.6 pence on the pound to 99.9 pence, the highest since Nov. 21, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Aside from the Italian private-equity firm, Aston Martin’s other main shareholders are Kuwaiti companies Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co.