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Aston Martin is in play

The maker of the iconic James Bond sports cars is said to be for sale once again

Published: November 27, 2012, 10:00 PM

2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster - rear 3/4 motion

Nobody's talking on the record but it appears that premium sports-car maker, Aston Martin, or at least a significant chunk of it, is on the block. And it has bidders.

A Kuwaiti firm called Investment Dar led a consortium of investors who purchased Aston Martin from Ford Motor in 2007. Now, Investment Dar is said to be looking for a buyer for up to 60% of that investment – although it only wants to give up 50% of the voting shares.

Both InvestIndustrial, a European private equity firm, and Mahindra & Mahindra, the world's biggest tractor maker as well as India’s largest producer of SUVs, have reportedly submitted bids.

The Indian firm, which also bid against Tata in its Jaguar Land Rover takeover, is reported to have made the higher offer. And last year, it bought the long-suffering South Korean firm Ssangyong, which also makes SUVs.

But there may be more to consider in the Aston Martin deal than money.

Aston Martin is a very small firm by automotive standards, with total sales in the order of 4,000 vehicles per year. Accordingly, it needs a technical tie-up with one of the major players just to keep up with the rapid pace of technical development in the industry, let alone gain a technical edge.

Currently, the company's vehicles are based on a platform developed during Ford's 20-year oenership, and it is still buying engines – albeit exclusive ones – from Ford.

InvestIndustrial's offer is rumoured to include a technology tie-in with Mercedes-Benz, which could be the decisive factor in the ultimate disposition of the firm that gained icon status as the provider of vehicles for James Bond.

Whatever the decision, it's expected soon.