Daimler AG (DAI), the German manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz luxury autos, is in early talks with Aston Martin on supply and technical-cooperation agreements as the U.K. sports-car maker seeks to reduce spending on developing models.
“While both sides know and respect each other very much, no decisions have been made,” Silke Walters, a spokeswoman at Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler, said today in an e-mailed response to questions. Discussions also involve Aston Martin owners Investindustrial Advisers SpA and Investment Dar Co., Walters said.
Daimler is London-based Investindustrial’s preferred partner for a supply deal, a person familiar with the matter said. A final agreement isn’t imminent, the person said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. Janette Green, an Aston Martin spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to fixed-line and mobile-phone requests for comment.
Aston Martin, the maker of sports cars featured in James Bond movies, is the only global luxury-auto brand that doesn’t belong to a larger manufacturing group, hampering its efforts to match competitors’ lower costs for creating models. Backed by new investor Investindustrial, the Gaydon, England-based automaker laid out plans in January to invest 500 million pounds ($777 million) over the next four years to compete with Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Bentley and Fiat SpA (F)’s Ferrari and Maserati.
Aston Martin, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, said in January that it was seeking a partner to develop high-end engines to strengthen its sports-car lineup. The brand was holding discussions with Daimler and other manufacturers and was planning on reaching an agreement in the following two months, Investindustrial Chairman Andrea Bonomi said at the time.
Investindustrial, a European private-equity fund, agreed in December to acquire a 37.5 percent holding in Aston Martin for 190 million euros ($250 million) in a capital increase. The fund, which has a track record of turning around high-end vehicle manufacturers such as Italian motorcycle maker Ducati, plans to remain an Aston Martin shareholder for at least 10 years, Bonomi said.
Investment Dar, a Kuwaiti sovereign-wealth fund, has been the main owner of Aston Martin since taking part with a group of investors in acquisition of the brand from Ford Motor Co. (F) in 2007 for 503 million pounds.
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