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Ford Sells Major Stake in Aston Martin

March 12, 2007

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. has sold a controlling stake in the Aston Martin brand, raising $848 million to help fund its turnaround plan.

Aston Martin now will be run by a consortium of investors, including racing mogul David Richards, car collector John Sinders and Kuwaiti firms of Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co.

Ford officials announced the sale at Aston Martin's headquarters in Gaydon, England. The sale is expected to close in the second quarter.

Ford will retain a $77 million stake in the company. That values all of Aston Martin at $925 million.

Dearborn-based Ford, which lost $12.7 billion last year and expects losses to continue until 2009, put Aston Martin up for sale last August.

Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said the sale supports the company's turnaround plan, which involves cutting factory capacity and rolling out new cars and trucks at a faster pace.

"From Aston Martin's point of view, the sale will provide access to additional capital, which will allow Aston Martin to continue the growth it has experienced under Ford's stewardship," Mulally said in a statement.

Richards is founder and chairman of Prodrive, a racing and automotive technology company with long-standing ties to Aston Martin. Sinders is an Aston Martin collector and racing backer, while Investment Dar and Adeem Investment are international companies based in Kuwait, Ford said.

Founded in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, Aston Martin turned out its first car in 1915. Ford bought a controlling stake in Aston Martin in 1987 and acquired full ownership in 1994.

Annual production dipped as low as just 46 cars in 1992. But the brand has enjoyed resurgence in this decade — a record 7,000 Aston Martins were sold worldwide last year and a similar number are expected to be purchased in 2007.

The DB9 and V8 Vantage models are made at Gaydon and later this year a DBS model will go into production at the Warwickshire plant, where 1,600 staff are employed.

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