Honda website
Honda website

FEBRUARY 21, 2007

David Richards adds to the interest

David Richards is working on a deal to buy Aston Martin. The bid is in league with yet-to-be revealed financiers, including an Egyptian investment bank. Aston Martin is being auctioned off by Ford, despite the fact that it is profitable. The company is based in a purpose built facility at Gaydon in Warwickshire, which is close to Prodrive's current headquarters and to the company's planned new site at the former Honiley Airfield at Wroxall. This will include an advanced engineering research and development campus, a conference facility called the Catalyst Centre and a test track.

The big question is whether the bid is linked to Formula 1 or whether Richards has decided to sell his franchise in the sport to help raise money for the Aston Martin takeover. The Aston Martin company is one of the most prestigious sports car brands in the world and has a strong sporting heritage, dating back to the very start of the firm in 1913. The company sold 4500 cars in 2005 but suffered a sharp drop in 2006 because of the weak dollar. The buyers, however, believe that the overall trend is upwards as new regions become automobile buyers in the years ahead. In this respect a Formula 1 project would be an obvious bonus for the company. The Prodrive company already has close links with Aston Martin and builds racing versions of the cars and has a deal to allow it to build and sell road-going versions for customers. The DBR9 sports car has enjoyed some success on the tracks and is aiming for more. The bid is believed to be worth around $900m.

Prodrive's plan - at least the one that has been announced - is to partner an existing F1 team. The team says it will announce some key appointments in the next couple of months. The team's factory will take about two years to build and the plan is to have car running in December.

At the same time there are rumours doing the rounds that Ron Dennis is on the verge of buying Prodrive so it will be interesting to see how all this works out.