Business at Aston Martin Lagonda has become so dire that the company needs a bailout from billionaire Canadian investor Lawrence Stroll, according to multiple reports on Friday.
Stroll, who made his money in the fashion business and is part owner of the Racing Point Formula One team, is leading a consortium of investors who will pay $239 million for a 16.7% stake in the company. Stroll will then be named Executive Vice Chairman of the company. Aston Martin also plans to sell 45.6 million new shares priced at about $5.27 each to raise another $417 million, pending shareholder approval. Stroll's consortium may purchase the new shares. The company's share price is down about 75% since its IPO in October 2018.
The situation is so dire that Stroll is injecting an immediate $72.8 million into the company to keep operations afloat, according to CNN.
The ownership share of the European and Kuwaiti investors that currently own about 61% of the company is expected to drop to 50.5% with the shakeup.
With the deal, the Racing Point team will become Aston Martin F1 starting with the 2021 season, according to a Friday statement from Aston Martin Lagonda. The company's current sponsorship of the Red Bull Racing team will continue through the 2020 season, and its relationship with Red Bull Advanced Technologies, which is helping to develop the Aston Martin Valkyrie, will continue until that car is delivered.
Aston Martin said 2019 sales were disappointing across Europe for all car lines and the Vantage in particular. The company also had increased expenses due to the DBX launch and shortfalls in expected savings in regard to headcount reduction and other cost-savings measures. Aston Martin said it has 1,800 orders for the DBX after the order books opened on Nov. 20, 2019, and that number is higher than it has seen for any other vehicle. Production for the DBX is set to start in the second quarter of 2020.
The company is also revising the release timeline for future products. The Vanquish, which Aston Martin calls its "mid-engined core car," is expected to be revealed after the Valhalla is shown in 2022. The Lagonda brand, which will focus on electric cars, will be relaunched no earlier than 2025. The electric Rapide E is "substantially" complete, but it has been paused and will be reviewed. The Rapide E had been expected this year. Aston Martin also noted that development continues on a modular V-6, based on its V-12, that will be used in the company's core cars. Hybrid variants are planned to start in the middle of the decade.
Aston Martin's statement said nothing about its parts partnership with Mercedes-Benz, which could provide inline-6 engines if Aston Martin were so inclined.
The British luxury brand said its priorities moving forward are to launch the DBX in the second quarter, reduce operating costs by $13.16 million annually and $9.21 million in 2020, deliver the Valkyrie later this year, and relaunch the Vantage and its roadster variant this spring.
Special vehicles will also continue as part of the reset plan. The Valkyrie and Valhalla are two of them. So are the "Goldfinger" DB5 continuation cars that will begin production this year. The DBS GT Zagatos will also arrive this year to complete the DBZ Centenary Collection. A V12 speedster will debut later this year and deliveries will start in the first quarter of 2021. The company also plans to reveal new specials, including one heritage special and two contemporary specials, each year.