Billionaire Lawrence Stroll Shifts Aston Martin into Fast Lane
This article was written by Reuters
Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll has agreed to buy up to 20 percent of Aston Martin and rename his Formula One team after the 107-year-old company famed for being fictional secret agent James Bond’s car of choice.
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A decline in sales of Aston Martin’s luxury sports cars since it floated on the London Stock Exchange in October 2018 has put the company’s shares and finances under sustained pressure, forcing it to seek help.
Under the deal announced on Friday, Stroll will pay £182 million ($316 million CAD) for a 16.7-percent stake which could rise to 20 percent upon completion of the company’s plan to raise a total of £500 million ($639 million CAD), including a rights issue from exiting shareholders.
Aston Martin shares surged as much as 30 percent after the announcement.
The brand, which is mainly owned by Italian and Kuwaiti private equity groups, has come late to the lucrative sports-utility vehicle (SUV) market and has struggled to keep up with rivals owned by major global carmakers.
Aston Martin had also held talks with Chinese carmaker Geely, which makes Volvos, but it wanted to instigate more fundamental change than the plan outlined on Friday, a person familiar with the talks told Reuters.
Aston Martin Chief Executive Andy Palmer said the consortium led by Stroll, who is behind the Racing Point F1 team and owns a fleet of vintage Ferraris, will bring several benefits.
“He brings with him his experiences and access to his Formula One team,” Palmer told Reuters.
“We’ve talked a lot in the past few years about wanting to be clearly rooted in luxury and obviously Mr Stroll knows an awful lot about luxury.”
Stroll will join Aston Martin’s board as executive chairman, replacing Penny Hughes, who will step down.
Under Friday’s agreement, Racing Point will become the Aston Martin F1 works team from the 2021 season. Stroll’s 21-year-old son Lance joined Mercedes-powered Racing Point last year from Williams and has Mexican Sergio Perez as team mate.
Stroll, who made his money through investing in fashion brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors, has been involved in Formula One and motor racing for years and also owns Canada’s Mont-Tremblant circuit in Quebec.