Aston Martin speeds ahead with October IPO worth perhaps $6.7 billion

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LONDON — Luxury British carmaker Aston Martin is seeking a valuation of up to 5.07 billion pounds ($6.7 billion) from its stock market flotation and has taken steps to prepare for any eventuality over Brexit, it said on Thursday.

The company, famed for making the sports car driven by fictional secret agent James Bond, said last month it was pursuing an initial public offering (IPO), the first British carmaker to do so for decades.

The automaker will publish a prospectus later on Thursday and hopes to announce its final pricing on or around Oct. 3. It expects its shares to be admitted to the London Stock Exchange on or around Oct. 8.

Carmakers have warned about the impact of any customs checks introduced as a result of a no deal or hard Brexit which could slow down production and add costs when Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

The boss of Aston, which builds all its cars in Britain, said the company had boosted its stock of engines and components in case free and unfettered trade with the European Union ends in a few months’ time.

“We’re up to five days of engine stock for example and we’ve got a very large warehouse in Wellesbourne (in central England) where we have at least five days of car stock,” Chief Executive Andy Palmer told Reuters, an increase from the previous three days’ worth of components held by the firm.

“If there are tariffs … for every car we lose because of a 10 percent tariff into Europe, we presumably pick up from Ferrari and Lamborghini in the other direction because obviously their cars become more expensive in the UK,” he said.

London and Brussels hope to conclude a Brexit agreement by the end of the year, but fellow carmakers such as BMW and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) are worried that failure to agree could lead to snarl-ups at motorways and ports, disrupting production.

JLR boss Ralf Speth warned last week that the wrong Brexit deal could cost tens of thousands of car jobs and risk production at the firm, Britain’s biggest carmaker.

Aston, which has set a price range of 17.50 pounds to 22.50 pounds per share for the 25 percent of stock it is floating, is targeting a market capitalization of between 4.02 and 5.07 billion pounds.

The carmaker, which has long said it could pursue a listing, has undergone a turnaround plan since Palmer took over in 2014 as it boosts its volumes and expands into new segments with a new factory due to open in 2019.

Palmer said investor interest had been “unprecedented” so far as he hits the road to tap into demand with his message that there is more growth to come.

“The tendency of the investors are ‘long only’ type investors, people that understand that this is a growth story” he said when asked who he would be meeting.

“The airplane is half way down the runway, but there’s still half the runway to go.”

($1 = 0.7606 pounds)

Reporting by Costas Pitas

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