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Old 05-08-2002, 08:00   #1 (permalink)
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Aston Martin chief says going public is option British supercar maker

Aston Martin chief says going public is option British supercar maker


By CHRIS WRIGHT
Automotive News Europe

LONDON - Aston Martin Chairman Ulrich Bez wants to have his British supercar maker ready for an initial offering on the stock market by 2005.

That doesn't mean it will happen, Bez added.

"I want to make sure the company is in the right shape so the option is available to our owner, Ford Motor Co.," he said. "It will mean we will have achieved the objectives we set ourselves."

Bez added: "I think the company could perform well (on the stock market). With Aston, there is substance to the company. We are not a dot-com business with no heritage."

Bez sees Ferrari as a business model. Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has talked recently of taking part of Fiat-controlled Ferrari public.

Ferrari struggled under Fiat ownership in the early 1990s, Bez said.

"Then Fiat installed a man (di Montezemolo) at the top of Ferrari and left them alone to focus on producing great cars and winning races," Bez said. "Fiat was there in the background only when needed."

Bez's plan for Aston Martin growth involves product, production capacity and dealers.

He plans to boost output from just 850 cars a year in 1999 to 5,000 in 2005. Vital to that growth is a new small Aston Martin, the AM305. The new car will give the automaker a three-model lineup with the DB7 and the Vanquish.

Aston Martin also will make sweeping changes in its English production sites and worldwide dealer network.

Bez sees the number of global dealerships increasing from 65 to 144 by the end of 2003.

"We have identified the areas where we need dealers, and in many cases we have also identified our partners," he said. Sites include principal cities in Europe and the United States, and more presence in the Middle East and Far East.

Aston Martin sales are focused on the United Kingdom and North America
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