Aston Martin Seeks Development Partner to Build Engines

Aston Martin, the British maker of sports cars featured in James Bond movies, is in talks with potential partners to jointly develop high-end engines and electronic parts to strengthen its sports-car lineup.

Aston Martin is holding discussions with Daimler AG and other manufacturers, and aims to reach an agreement within the next two months, Investindustrial Chairman Andrea Bonomi, whose company recently bought a stake in the British manufacturer, told reporters in Milan today.

Aston Martin intends to invest 500 million pounds ($800 million) over the next four years to develop the brand, Bonomi said at an event on the future of the Italian auto industry.

Aston Martin is the sole global luxury-car brand that doesn’t belong to a larger manufacturing group making it harder for the Gaydon, Warwick-based company to cover development costs. Investindustrial, a European private equity fund based in London, agreed last month to acquire a 37.5 percent holding for 190 million euros ($254 million) in a capital increase.

The deal gave Aston Martin, which is celebrating its centenary this year, much needed cash to compete with Volkswagen AG’s Bentley and Fiat SpA’s Ferrari and Maserati.

“We don’t comment on any speculation,” Silke Walters, a Daimler spokeswoman, said by phone today when asked about a possible cooperation.

Investment Dar Co. remains the major shareholder in Aston Martin, which the Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund bought with a group of investors from Ford Motor Co. in 2007 for 503 million pounds.

Investindustrial has a track record of turning around high-end vehicle manufacturers, selling Italian motorcycle maker Ducati to VW’s Audi last year. Investindustrial plans to remain an Aston Martin shareholder for at least 10 years to rebuild the brand, Bonomi said.

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