Aston Martin owner denies receiving two offers for firm

Aston Martin The Aston Martin marque was made famous by James Bond

The owner of Aston Martin, Kuwait's Investment Dar, has denied reports it has received competing bids for a 50% stake in the luxury British car brand.

Italian private equity fund Investindustrial is widely reported to have made an offer of nearly £250m ($400m) for Aston Martin.

India's Mahindra and Mahindra is understood to have made a higher offer.

But in an interview with Kuwait's Al Watan newspaper Investment Dar chairman Adnan Al Musallam denied the story.

Analysis

Aston Martin is a world famous brand, largely due to its long association with James Bond, as well as its exploits in motor racing. Yet it remains a relatively small company operating in a niche market, selling just a few thousand cars every year.

When the current owners bought the business from Ford five years ago, they promised to take Aston Martin to "even greater heights", and outlined ambitious plans to build up sales in Asia, especially in China. To a certain extent they have succeeded. China is now the company's fifth largest market. But sales in the UK and North America have been badly affected by the after-effects of the financial crisis, and are yet to recover.

The biggest challenge for the company remains its ability to develop new products which are capable of competing with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche, both of which have the financial and engineering muscle of major companies behind them. Its new Vanquish, for example, is largely based on an engine and chassis which have been around for the best part of a decade.

Earlier this month, Investment Dar dismissed a Bloomberg story which said it was looking to sell its stake in the British car maker as having "no truth to it".

At the time, the investment house said it had "a long-term plan and commitment with Aston Martin and has no plans to sell its stake in Aston Martin in the short term".

Despite that statement on 12 November though, reports of a bidding war between Investindustrial and Mahindra and Mahindra have become more widespread.

Mahindra and Mahindra declined to comment, while Investindustrial could not be reached.

Aston Martin, based in Gaydon, Warwickshire, will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.

Its cars have been immortalised in James Bond films over the last few decades.

The company was sold in 2007 by Ford for £479m to a consortium of Investment Dar and another Kuwaiti investment fund, Adeem Investment.

The consortium was fronted by Dave Richards, former Formula One Benetton and BAR boss, who remains as chairman of Aston Martin.

The new owners targeted higher sales in China, but sales in the UK and North America have been hit in the financial crisis.

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