Elisabeth Behrmann and Oliver Sachgau
Aston Martin, maker of luxury sports cars for the James Bond movies, is moving ahead with a plan to list shares in London, naming Penny Hughes as chairman to end all-male board representation.
The manufacturer will trade on the London Stock Exchange in October, with a free float of at least 25% of the issued share capital and Daimler converting its holding of about 4.9% to ordinary shares, the company said.
Made famous through the spy movie franchise, it is said to target a valuation of £5bn (€5.6bn), which would approach Ferrari’s multiples. Aston Martin is controlled by London-based Investindustrial Advisors and Kuwaiti Investment.
The offering will allow the carmaker’s shareholders to cash out with a potential 10-fold return — months before the UK leaves the EU.
While the UK’s post-Brexit automotive industry is one of the sectors most exposed to potential trade hurdles, the split wasn’t a large factor in the IPO calculations, chief financial officer Mark Wilson has said.
— Aston Martin (@astonmartin) June 26, 2018
The carmaker’s plans for a listing contrast with Volvo’s decision to delay its own IPO because of global trade tensions that may require a rejigging of its production base. For its part, Aston Martin expects to deliver between 6,200 units and 6,400 units this year and achieve a profit margin of about 23%. Production will rise to as many as 9,800 units in 2020.
Like its Italian rival, the British marque has broadened beyond cars, experimenting with Aston Martin-styled yachts and apartments and opening a store in London’s Mayfair where it sells branded shirts and prams to wealthy patrons.
“I think what you’re seeing is a company with its mojo back,” chief executive Andy Palmer said. “We’re getting on the front foot, because we’re small, because we’re agile, and because we’ve managed the company to allow us to have the cash to do it,” he said.
In addition to Ms Hughes, Aston Martin also named five other independent directors including two other women, Imelda Walsh and Tensie Whelan. If it didn’t add women to the board, the company would have become one of about 10 companies within the UK’s benchmark FTSE 350 shares index to have an all-male boardroom at a time when the UK government is urging businesses to ensure 33% of their directors are female by 2020. The women on the board were not added because of diversity requirements, Mr Palmer said.
The indicative price range for the IPO is expected to be announced in a prospectus around September 20, with the final offer price in early October, the statement said.