Chinese car maker Geely, the owner of Lotus and Volvo, a part-owner of Smart and a significant shareholder in Daimler, is in talks to invest in Aston Martin, according to a report by the Financial Times.
The report suggests Geely is conducting due diligence ahead of a potential formal offer - although it is not clear if the goal is a technical partnership, a financial stake in the firm or both.
It is also suggested that Geely's involvement may not preclude billionaire Lawrence Stroll's mooted investment; he is also said to be in advanced talks with the firm, and reported to be seeking a 19.9% stake in it for around £200m.
Earlier this week Aston issued an unexpected profit warning due to "challenging trading conditions". Revealing the firm sold 5819 cars in 2019, 7% down on 2018, chief executive Andy Palmer said Aston had suffered a "very disappointing year".
“The challenging trading conditions highlighted in November continued through the peak delivery period of December resulting in lower sales, higher selling costs and lower margins,” said Palmer.
As a result Palmer said that Aston's earnings margin for 2019 will be 12.5-13.5 per cent. Last summer it issued a warning that the margin would be 20%, triggering a substantial fall in its stock price. Palmer added that adjusted earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation will be £130-140m, around £60m below expectations.
Palmer also revealed Aston spent more on marketing and underwriting finance than previously.
“Whilst we are disappointed with trading performance in 2019, our focus is now on revitalising the business, launching DBX and ensuring profitable growth in the medium-term," added Palmer.