Saudi sovereign fund to become Aston Martin’s no.2 shareholder

(Reuters) -Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund will become the second-largest shareholder of Aston Martin with a nearly 17% stake in a capital raise aimed at paying off debt and shoring up its business, the British luxury carmaker said on Friday.

The company, faced with with high debt, a torrid stock fall and a struggling Formula One team, said it planned to raise 653 million pounds ($773.15 million) through PIF’s 78 million pound investment and a separate rights issue of 575 million pounds.

The Saudi fund will own 16.7% stake in Aston Martin, behind the 18.3% holding by Chairman Lawrence Stroll’s Yew Tree will have after the rights issue, and will be entitled to two board seats at the carmaker.

Current second-largest shareholder, German carmaker Mercedes-Benz AG, will own about 9.7% after the capital increase. The firm was looking to lift it stake to up to 20% by 2023.

Frequently featured in the James Bond movie franchise, Aston Martin has had a bumpy ride since its initial public offering in late 2018. Its London-listed shares have fallen nearly 73% so far this year. They jumped 10% on Friday morning after hitting a record low earlier.

Half of the new capital will be used to repay debt, Aston Martin said. The company had a debt of 957 million pounds at the end of March. It will also serve to accelerate future capital expenditure.

The Financial Times reported on Thursday that Aston Martin was closing in on a deal to raise over 500 million pounds by, bringing in the Saudi fund as a major shareholder.

PIF, which owns stakes in electric carmaker Lucid and British supercar group McLaren, did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

Separately, Aston Martin also reported wholesale volumes of 2,676 in the first half of 2022, down from 2,901 a year ago. It expects to sell more than 6,660 units for the full-year.

($1 = 0.8446 pounds)

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Tomasz Janowski)

tagreuters.com2022binary_LYNXMPEI6E07B-VIEWIMAGE