Ford mulls Aston Martin sale

01-09-2006

Global carmaker Ford has hinted it is looking to offload its Aston Martin division as part of its strategic review aimed at getting its US operations back on the road.

Earlier this week, the Times newspaper said the world's third biggest car manufacturer may sell off some of its luxury vehicle brands to an investment group led by former chief executive Jacques Nasser.

Ford has now said it is looking at strategic options for the luxury brand "with particular emphasis on a potential sale" of all or part of the unit.

But the company insisted that there was no certainty the sale would proceed.

Chairman and chief executive Bill Ford said: "As part of our ongoing strategic review, we have determined that Aston Martin may be an attractive opportunity to raise capital and generate value.

"Aston Martin Lagonda has flourished under Ford ownership, which is why we believe it is prudent to consider a sale of all or part of this prized brand."

He went on: "Since Aston Martin's dealer network, product architecture and size are distinctly different from other Ford brands, it is the most logical and capital-smart divestiture choice.

"The objective of any sale would be to position Aston Martin within a structure and resource base sufficient to allow it to reach its full potential, while enabling Ford to efficiently raise capital for its other brands."

Aston, based in Gaydon, Warwickshire, is part of the Premier Automotive Group (PAG), which includes Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.

Mr Ford said no final decision had been made about divestiture of the group but added he was encouraged by Jaguar's progress and the appeal of the Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo products.

Ford, which suffered $1.44 billion (£756 million) losses in the first half of this year, has lost cash in seven of the past eight quarters in the US.

The news comes amid continuing speculation of possible strategic alliances with General Motors, Renault and Nissan.


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