Aston Martin lines up bankers and chairman to steer £5bn float

5 March 2018, 18:01

Aston Martin is considering whether to snub the London stock market and pursue a listing in New York as it seeks to emulate Ferrari's soaring valuation since going public.

Sky News has learnt that James Bond's carmaker‎ is lining up pitches from investment banks to take place later this month as it accelerates towards a long-awaited initial public offering.

The company, which is jointly owned by Italian ‎and Kuwaiti shareholders, is also preparing to recruit an independent chairman in preparation for the flotation, insiders said on Monday.

Aston Martin, which reported a strong set of full-year results last week, provided the first formal indication that it is looking at "a range of strategic options for the future of the group, including the potential for an IPO".

London remains the frontrunner to secure an Aston Martin flotation, but New York is a serious contender, according to a source close to the company.

Aston Martin's shareholders and management have ‎been closely watching Ferrari's buoyant valuation since it listed in 2015, and are expected to explore with financial advisers the relative merits of a US IPO.

While the UK car market has been beset by Brexit-related jitters, a decision to list in New York would be unrelated to the UK's departure from the European Union, the source added.

The deliberations set up a transatlantic tussle to entice the manufacturer of the DB11, Vantage and Rapide models, with exchanges in London and New York keen to win the listing.

Aston Martin's shareholders are being advised ‎by Lazard, the investment bank, on their strategic options.

A flotation would cap a remarkable comeback for a company which, despite having one of the most prestigious names in the global automotive market, was dogged by financial difficulties for years.

Its recent performance has enabled it to draw up plans to enter the lucrative SUV market, with the DBX expected to go on sale in 2020.

Based in Gaydon, Aston Martin employs more than 2,700 people, and sells its cars in 53 countries.

The company will unveil its new Vantage road car at this week's Geneva International Motor Show, which begins on Tuesday.

Aston Martin's growth prospects have been spurred by its strong performance in overseas markets including China, where it plans to open 10 new showrooms.

The carmaker announced the expansion plans during Theresa May's recent trade visit to China, where she was joined by bosses including Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer.

Last week, the company was able to report the highest sales in its history last year, at £876m, with pre-tax profits of £87m.

The resurgent performance promises to deliver a stellar valuation to ‎Italy's Investindustrial and Investment Dar, a Kuwaiti vehicle, which between them own 95% of Aston Martin's shares.

Aston Martin's chairmanship currently rotates between its two largest shareholders, but the company will shortly begin a recruitment process to identify an independent chairman, according to insiders.

Last year, Bloomberg News reported that Aston Martin would seek a £5bn valuation from a float.

A spokesman for Aston Martin declined to comment on its IPO preparations but said that no decisions about any aspect of it had been taken.