British luxury carmaker Aston Martin has signed up seven banks to prepare a £4bn stock market flotation that would rank among the City’s most anticipated share sales for years.
Sky News has learnt that the company’s shareholders have approved the appointment of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Unicredit to act as bookrunners on the prospective deal.
The quartet of banks will work with Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, which have won the prized roles of joint global co-ordinators on Aston Martin’s initial public offering (IPO).
The recruitment of such an extensive syndicate of banks, which has been approved by Aston Martin’s two Italian and Kuwaiti shareholders, is the clearest sign to date that the luxury car marque is pushing ahead with plans to go public.
The manufacturer of models such as the Vanquish S said in February that it was examining “a range of strategic options…including the potential for an IPO”.
Sources said the company would seek a valuation of between £4bn and £5bn.
London is the likeliest listing venue for an Aston Martin IPO, although its board and shareholders have also been examining New York as they seek a luxury goods valuation similar to that achieved by Ferrari, the US-listed Italian car marque.
If it does list in London, it may also list Global Depositary Receipts, a form of instrument linked to a company’s shares, in New York, according to insiders.
The Gaydon-based car manufacturer is also preparing to recruit an independent chairman in preparation for the flotation.
Aston Martin, which reported a strong set of full-year results two months ago, unveiled plans to revive its Lagonda brand as an all-electric marque at the recent Geneva Motor Show.
Andy Palmer, the company’s chief executive, said the revamp would “appeal to people other than traditionalists, such as those who want to upgrade from a Tesla”.
In an effort to embrace growing demand for electric vehicles, Aston Martin has said that each of its models will be developed with hybrid technology or full battery power by 2025.
Aston Martin, which faced years of financial struggles, has delivered a turnaround in its financial performance, to the relief of its main shareholders, Italy’s Investindustrial and Investment Dar, a Kuwaiti vehicle.
Daimler, the German car manufacturer which owns Mercedes-Benz, also holds a small stake.
The company recently reported the highest sales in its history last year, at £876m, with pre-tax profits of £87m.
Aston Martin’s stock market debut will bring a dash of glamour to the public markets, regardless of whether the maker of the DB11, Vantage and Rapide models opts for a London or New York listing.
Aston Martin’s shareholders are being advised by Lazard, the investment bank, on their strategic options.
Its recent performance has enabled it to draw up plans to enter the lucrative SUV market, with the DBX expected to go on sale in 2020.
Aston Martin employs more than 2,700 people, and sells its cars in 53 countries.
Its growth prospects have been spurred by its strong performance in overseas markets including China, where it plans to open 10 new showrooms.
The carmaker announced the expansion during Theresa May’s recent trade visit to China, where she was joined by bosses including Mr Palmer.
Aston Martin’s chairmanship currently rotates between its two largest shareholders, but the company has begun a process to identify an independent chairman, according to insiders.
A spokesman for Aston Martin declined to comment on the banks’ appointment.
(c) Sky News 2018: Aston Martin gears up for £4bn float with bank appointments