Mahindra hopes to secure Aston Martin deal this week
India's Mahindra and Mahindra hopes to strike a deal to buy Aston Martin by the end of the week, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Mahindra is said to have topped an offer for Aston Martin from Italian private equity fund Investindustrial.
"There are a lot of moving parts here," the source told Reuters on Monday, adding that an initial 40 percent stake could rise to 50 percent for a total price unlikely to top $400 million.
Kuwait's Investment Dar denied on Sunday that it is reviewing rival bids from Mahindra and InvestIndustrial for 50 percent of the UK luxury sports car brand. However, sources said the bidders were wrangling over issues on management control.
Investment Dar led a group that bought Aston Martin from Ford Motor Co. in 2007 for 479 million pounds, or $925 million at the time. Analysts have said that Investment Dar, which went to the market for a $1 billion debt restructuring last year, hoped to recoup what it had sunk into Aston Martin -- meaning a value for the firm of about $1 billion.
InvestIndustrial bid between 200 million and 250 million pounds ($400 million) for a stake, a source had said earlier.
An apparent lack of interest among major carmakers, such as BMW, Daimler or Toyota, may have left the way open for Mahindra and InvestIndustrial, which sold Italy's Ducati high-end motorcycle brand to Audi earlier this year.
Nonetheless, some analysts questioned the logic of linking the Mahindra family to Aston Martin -- though the 99-year-old British firm had its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s when it was owned by another tractor man, industrial magnate David Brown from Yorkshire, England, founder of the classic DB model line beloved of James Bond.
"It's difficult to visualize a tractor and an Aston Martin in the same garage," said Mads Kaiser, a fund manager with JI India Equity Fund. "The acquisition will broaden their portfolio but doesn't add anything to their tractor or India portfolio."
Shares in Mahindra fell more than 3 percent on Monday. Investors will be wary of the risk of "trophy acquisitions" that a tempting, vanity brand like Aston Martin might pose.
Anand Mahindra, whose family company is one of India's biggest businesses, has plenty of cash at his disposal with a corporate debt-to-equity ratio of 0.29 at the end of March.
But Ashvin Chotai, managing director of consulting firm Intelligence Automotive Asia in London, said: "Aston Martin technology is so far beyond anything that Mahindra is doing at the moment that it's hard to see any synergies either way. The main thing Mahindra would bring to Aston Martin is money and maybe resources. But they're not bringing a lot of experience."
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