Malcolm Flynn | Nov 12, 2012

Aston Martin could be on the market again, and a new report suggests that Toyota could buy a majority share in the historic marque.

Bloomberg reports that Aston’s current controlling shareholder, Kuwait's Investment Dar, is looking to divest its current 64 percent share, just five years after buying into the UK-based carmaker.

The report cites word from unnamed Investment Dar insiders, who claim the shareholding company has recently approached several potential buyers.

These potential buyers reportedly include Indian giant Mahindra & Mahindra, and Toyota - currently the world’s largest carmaker.

Investment Dar was the largest constituent in a consortium led by David Richards (known for his Prodrive and WRC successes) that acquired Aston Martin from Ford in 2007, with Investment Dar’s contribution reportedly totalling US$805 million.

The report claims the sale of Investment Dar’s share is being hindered by an asking price equal to this initial investment.

Aston Martin’s model line-up has expanded considerably since the 2007 acquisition, and while annual production remains steady at around 4200 units, annual earnings fell 18 percent between 2010/11.

2013 aston martin vanquish 18

These factors, combined with Aston’s reliance on the ageing Ford-developed VH platform and V8 and V12 engines for most of its cars, have cast doubt over Investment Dar realising its reported asking price.

There is also concern over Aston Martin’s long-term competitiveness with its current ownership structure, as it lacks the financial and developmental might of a mainstream manufacturer.

Lamborghini and Ferrari have flourished under their respective Volkswagen Group and Fiat stewardships, while even the long-successfully independant Porsche is now under Volkswagen Group ownership.

Toyota has an existing relationship with Aston Martin which resulted in the iQ-based Aston Martin Cygnet city car, while rumours recently circulated suggesting this arrangement could expand to include the supply of high performance engines.

These reports follow the collapse of a proposed drivetrain/platform sharing arrangement with Mercedes-Benz’ failed Maybach arm.

According to the Bloomberg report, Toyota conducted a preliminary evaluation of an investment in Aston Martin just two months ago, but has failed to progress any further.

Both Aston Martin and Investment Dar personnel have denied any plans of such a sale, but either way, a mainstream alliance appears necessary for Aston Martin to retain its competitiveness across world markets.

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