Ford expected to sign deal to sell Aston Martin stake

Ford Motor Co. was expected to announce a deal Monday to sell a stake in its luxury British Aston Martin brand to a group of private investors.

Kuwait-based Investment Dar Co. and Adeem Investment KSC will sign the deal to buy a stake in the sports car company made famous by the James Bond movies at Aston Martin's headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, an official told Zawya Dow Jones in Dubai. Ford officials confirmed the news conference, but gave no other details.

Investment Dar, Kuwait's largest diversified holding company, is leading a group of businesses to buy a 15 percent to 20 percent stake in Aston Martin, according to media reports.

It was not immediately clear whether the Kuwaiti stake represented only part of a larger deal.

Earlier reports said Ford was set to sell a majority stake in the sports car brand to a group of investors that includes pair of Kuwaiti companies and the racing mogul David Richards. Ford was expected to retain a 15 percent stake in the company, according to last week's reports. The Financial Times reported the deal could be worth 450 million pounds (US$869.1 million; EUR660.5 million).

Founded in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, Aston Martin turned out its first car in 1915. Ford bought a controlling stake in Aston Martin in 1987 and acquired full ownership in 1994. It announced last August that it would be interested in a full or partial sale.

Annual production dipped as low as just 46 cars in 1992. But the marque has enjoyed a resurgence this decade a record 7,000 Aston Martins were sold worldwide last year and similar number are expected to be purchased in 2007.

The DB9 and V8 Vantage models are made at Gaydon and later this year a DBS model will go into production at the Warwickshire plant, where 1,600 staff are employed, reports AP.

Actor Daniel Craig drove the DBS in "Casino Royale" and the first 007 Sean Connery drove an Aston Martin DB5 in the 1964 Bond movie "Goldfinger."

Versions of the car also appeared in a number of other 007 films, including "Thunderball," "The Living Daylights," "Goldeneye" and "Die Another Day."

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