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Aston Martin Put On Downgrade Watch By Investment Ratings Agency

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2014 Aston Martin Vanquish

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish

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Aston Martin, whose controlling shareholder Investment Dar is reportedly looking to offload its stake in the British sports car manufacturer, has been put on downgrade watch by Moody’s Investors Service.

The investment ratings agency says the automaker may receive a credit downgrade due to its cash flow becoming negative in the third quarter of the year and its total cash dropping to less than $40 million as of September 30.

Aston Martin is already on a non-investment grade B3 rating, which is defined as having “high credit risk,” but this rating may go lower pending the outcome of a downgrade review, Moody’s said in a statement released late last week.

Aston Martin spokeswoman Janette Green has since confirmed to Bloomberg that the automaker is in advanced talks to sell new shares to investors and help raise funds necessary for its growth plans. It’s not clear who those investors are, and the announcement of a potential downgrade by Moody’s certainly won’t help Aston Martin’s chances.

It was previously reported that Investment Dar had received two bids for its 64-percent stake in Aston Martin, one from Italian private equity firm Investindustrial, the previous owner of Ducati, and the other from Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra. Both bids were reportedly well below the $800 million Investment Dar was seeking for its stake.

Aston Martin’s sales are down 20 percent to 2,520 vehicles over the first nine months of the year, though the company has only just launched a new flagship in the form of the stunning 2014 Vanquish. A new convertible version, the Vanquish Volante, is also due to be revealed soon, and both cars should help the brand attract more customers.

Additionally, Aston Martin was somewhat late to opening showrooms in China, where sales of luxury models are still much higher than most other markets. Its gradual expansion in China should also help boost its sales in the coming years.
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