British carmaker Aston Martin is targeting the super-rich with apartments, submarines and speedboats as it fights to join the FTSE 100 in a blockbuster £5bn stock market float.
The 115-year-old business set out its plans to go public amid record profits and an audacious bid to dominate the luxury market.
It will give investors the chance to own a slice of a British car company for the first time since Jaguar was bought by Ford and left the stock market in 1990.
The old and the new: Including Aston Martin’s powerboat and the DB5 from James Bond film Goldfinger
Chief executive Andy Palmer believes the brand can be more than just a car maker.
It launched a 37ft powerboat two years ago, and teamed up with Triton Submarines last year to make a luxury underwater vehicle, codenamed Project Neptune, for millionaire playboys.
The firm based in Gaydon, Warwickshire, with 2,700 staff, is behind a 65-storey skyscraper in Miami with apartments for sale at up to £38m each. And it has even come up with a concept for a pilotless plane.
At its showroom in Mayfair, Aston sells luxury goods including a picnic hamper for £1,950 and a wash bag for £149 alongside cars.
Palmer said: ‘We’re a luxury company, we’re not just a car company, and you have to see us in that context.
‘Those lucky high net worth individuals who can afford our cars can also afford the lifestyle that goes around them. Believe me, those kinds of people want boats by Aston Martin, submarines by Aston Martin, and they want apartments by Aston Martin.’
Ordinary savers will not be allowed to take part in the stock market listing, with shares being offered to City institutions, staff and customers. Instead, they will have to wait until after trading has begun on the stock market in London to buy the shares.
And sources played down the prospect of Aston Martin shareholders getting a ‘007’ ticker in homage to its association with James Bond.
Palmer said: ‘This is a monumental moment. Carmaking in the UK is in a healthy state, but companies are foreign-owned. ‘Now we will have an independent British car company again.’
It hopes to sell a 25 per cent stake for £1.25bn, which would value it at £5bn. Owners Investindustrial in Italy and Kuwaiti fund Investment Dar will sell part of their stakes, and German car maker Daimler will retain a holding.
Aston unveiled record sales of £444.9m in the first six months of 2018, up 8.4pc on a year earlier. Profits climbed 2.5 per cent to an all-time high of £20.8m, and it sold 2,299 vehicles. But there are questions over whether it can achieve a £5 billion valuation. This would give it a similar value to Marks & Spencer at the bottom of the FTSE 100.
Laith Khalaf of investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown said: ‘While we’re disappointed there isn’t a retail offering, private investors will be able to buy shares on the secondary market. This allows investors to buy into a little of the glamour of Aston Martin, without getting a second mortgage.’
Bumper pay for banks
Some of the world’s biggest banks are set for a bumper payday if the £5 billion float of Aston Martin goes ahead.
German lender Deutsche Bank and US firms JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs will lead the listing.
HSBC, Credit Suisse, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Italy’s Unicredit will also be involved. No details of fees have yet been announced, but they are likely to run into tens of millions of pounds, meaning a bonanza for bankers.
They include Anthony Gutman, joint head of Goldman’s UK investment bank, who has worked on blockbuster floats.
Car maker’s dig at Tesla
Aston Martin took an apparent dig at Elon Musk and other rivals, saying its new Lagonda range will be the world’s first luxury electric car brand.
Aston is vying to conquer the high-end electric car market, fighting rivals including Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Musk’s Tesla.
It is resurrecting the 112-year-old Lagonda marque as a high-powered fossil fuel-free range, to be available in 2021, and billing it as a luxury brand.
Musk’s Tesla Model 3 costs £27,000, while the average for Aston Martin is £167,000. Announcing the new range in March, Aston’s Andy Palmer said: ‘It will appeal to people other than traditionalists – those who want to upgrade from a Tesla.’