Aston shareholder hints that significant tie-up deal is in the offing

Aston Martin could strike up an alliance with Mercedes-Benz, according to the car-maker’s majority shareholder.Adham Charanoglu of Kuwaiti company Investment DAR has been in the news this week having said that Aston and Mercedes could co-operate on a wide range of ventures, from just engine supply to entirely new models.Intriguingly, there is a Kuwaiti connection between Aston and Mercedes. While Aston is majority owned by DAR, the Kuwati Investment Authority owns a 7 per cent stake in Daimler AG, Mercedes’ parent company.Sources at Aston Martin have told Autocar that the company is free to source future engines from anywhere. It's currently reliant on Ford engine, but while the Blue Oval retains a small stake in the company, it's not enough to prevent it going elsewhere for powerplants.And there could be substantial benefits from various tie-ups with an automotive powerhouse such as Mercedes. A tiny company like Aston needs to buy in ancilliary components such as climate control units, and electrical architectures, from third parties - they are simply too costly to independently engineer - and a deal with Mercedes could supply systems like these. Crash-test engineering and global test programmes could also be ‘piggybacked’.And deeper co-operation may even be possible, model-for-model. The next-generation Merc SL is switching to an aluminium platform, opening the way for Aston Martin to co-operate on an entire vehicle.Charanoglu also said that he wanted to see Aston Martin merchandising expand massively. DAR has been in negotiations with Mercedes, LVMH’s Luis Vuitton and PPR’s Gucci about high-end branded goods. Merchandising revenue turned over $100m in 2006 and he wanted that to leap to $300m by 2009.

Hilton Holloway

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13 February 2008

A match made in heaven with Mercede's size and Astons expertise they could both get what they need to make a supercar the Germans need the Brits for engineers and we need their parts. A perfect alliance as long as not too many parts say "made in germany"!

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