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INTERNATIONAL – Aston Martin, maker of luxury sports cars for James Bond, 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 percent of the issued share capital and Daimler AG converting its holding of about 4.9 percent to ordinary shares, the company said Monday in a statement. Bloomberg was the first to report that the maker of cars made famous through the spy movie franchise is said to target a valuation of 5 billion pounds ($6.5 billion), which would approach Ferrari NV’s multiples.
The offering will allow the carmaker’s shareholders to cash out with a potential 10-fold return — months before the U.K. leaves the European Union. While the U.K.’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 is controlled by London-based Investindustrial Advisors Ltd. and Kuwaiti Investment Dar.
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 percent, according to the statement. 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 shopping district where it sells branded shirts and baby strollers to wealthy patrons.
“I think what you’re seeing is a company with its mojo back,” Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer said in an interview. “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.”
In addition to Hughes, Aston Martin also named five other independent directors including two other woman, 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 U.K.’s benchmark FTSE 350 equities gauge to have an all-male boardroom at a time when the government is urging businesses to ensure 33 percent of their directors are female by 2020.
The women on the board were not added because of diversity requirements, Palmer said. His goal was to find the best people for the positions, and “the fact that three of the board members are women is purely incidental to that.”
The indicative price range for the IPO is expected to be announced in a prospectus around Sept. 20, with the final offer price in early October, the statement said.
Joint global coordinators for the offering are: Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs International and J.P. Morgan Securities plc, which is also acting as sole sponsor. Lazard is acting as financial adviser to the company.
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