Share prices at Aston Martin surged by 30 per cent this morning when it was announced that billionaire Lawrence Stroll had invested £182 million into the firm to become its chairman. The Canadian businessman has received a 16.7 per cent stake in the car maker, equating to 45.6m shares, and the Racing Point team he co-owns will be rebranded as Aston’s work team from 2021 as a result. Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said the deal, which follows a disappointing 2019, “will allow [the company] to implement and deliver on our reset plan and provide Aston Martin Lagonda with a sustainable platform for the future”.
Following the new Vantage’s unexpectedly low sales last year and a resulting weak performance for the company on the London Stock Exchange, Stroll’s investment will come as a much-needed financial – and confidence – boost. It puts Aston back on track to producing its new range of mid-engined sports and supercars, including the Valhalla and Vanquish models, as well as the Valkyrie halo that, interestingly, will continue to be developed in partnership with Red Bull Racing despite the arrival of an Aston factory team. The company said it will remain a technology partner of Red Bull “until Aston Martin Valkyrie is delivered”. Which makes sense.
Aston may, however, surprise some people with its altered stance on electric technology development. The company said in its statement: “[Aston Martin] is focussing in providing greater financial and operational stability and flexibility through controlling medium-term investment, improving cash generation and rephasing product cadence,” but that “investment in electric vehicles will be delayed beyond 2025”. That contrasts previous intentions, which have led to the recent opening of its new St Athan site, which is to be the company’s EV tech hub as well as home of DBX production.
In fact, priorities for 2020 are said to kick off with the launch of this Aston SUV in quarter two, with a following “relaunch” of the Vantage to be instigated by the arrival of a Roadster derivative in spring. No doubt Valkyrie deliveries and the following exposure that provides later in 2020 will help with the cause, too. Although despite these new cars and Stroll’s injection of money, Aston still intends to reduce its operating cost base by £10m per annum, starting with £7m from this year. That’ll come at a time when the St Athan facility is inevitably going to require an increasing amount of investment while it’s ramped up to full pace.
You’ll probably have already joined the dots to realise that Stroll’s F1 driver son, Lance, will also benefit from his father’s purchase, with the 21-year-old racer expected to remain at his present squad – formerly Force India – as it aims to move up the grid under the Aston banner. The involvement of his father, who is reportedly worth more than $2.5bn, in Lance Stroll’s career has not been without its controversy; he ranks as one of the sport's most significantly supported ‘pay drivers’ yet. And this will only add to that label. No doubt plenty of PHers already have their own opinions of that. Over to you…