Aston Martin has turned to equity funding to help pay down debts as well as fuel investment in future product, and in the process has gained Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Investment Fund, as a key shareholder—the second largest shareholder, in fact, after Yew Tree, the consortium led by fashion mogul Lawrence Stroll, father of Aston Martin Formula 1 driver Lance Stroll.
Under the deal announced on Friday, Aston Martin plans to raise 653 million British pounds (approximately $773 million) via an initial investment of 78 million British pounds from Saudi Arabia and the rest via a separate rights issue. At the conclusion of the deal, Saudi Arabia will own 16.7% of Aston Martin, behind the 18.3% of Yew Tree and ahead of the 9.7% of Mercedes-Benz. Saudi Arabia will also gain two seats on Aston Martin's board.
Saudi Arabia in recent years has been increasing its investments in the automotive space as it looks to reduce its dependency on oil exports. The country has major stakes in niche brands Pagani and Lucid, for example. It's also a major investor in Uber.
Half of the raised funds will be used to reduce Aston Martin's debts, which at the end of March stood at 957 million British pounds. The rest will be used for product development as well as to go into a cash pile that can provide the company with liquidity in case of economic shocks.
New products in the pipeline include updates to its front-engine sports cars due in 2023, a plug-in hybrid in 2024 (likely the Valhalla hypercar), and an electric vehicle in 2025. The EV has been confirmed as a sports car. An electric SUV is expected to follow in 2026. More DBX variants are also planned, together with a mid-engine Vanquish supercar.
The company also said it aims to end the year with more than 6,660 sales, and has a long-term target for annual sales of 10,000 units. The first half of 2022 came in at 2,676 units, down from 2,901 units a year ago.
Despite a lot of fanfare over new product and a return to F1 with a factory team, Aston Martin has struggled since the onset of the pandemic. To help turn things around, the company has been hiring former Ferrari executives, including Amedeo Felisa as CEO and Roberto Fedeli as chief technology officer. Felisa and Fedeli had the same roles at Ferrari.