James Bond carmaker Aston Martin targets £5.1 bn IPO

Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin, poses for a photograph next to the company’s new Vantage car in Gaydon, Britain November 20, 2017. (File photo / AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018

James Bond carmaker Aston Martin targets £5.1 bn IPO

LONDON: Aston Martin, the luxury British sports car brand favored by fictional spy James Bond 007, said Thursday that its upcoming stock market flotation would look to value the group at up to £5.1 billion ($6.7 billion, 5.7 billion euros).
The glitzy carmaker’s latest starring role will be on the London Stock Exchange in October, the group revealed in a statement, in a plot twist that will make it the only listed British automobile manufacturer.
The part-flotation of Aston Martin — whose top-end cars are cherished by Hollywood actors, global sports stars and British royalty — will carry a price range of £17.50 to £22.50 per share.
“By becoming the only automotive company listed on the London Stock Exchange, Aston Martin Lagonda will provide investors with a fitting opportunity to participate in our future success,” chief executive Andy Palmer said in a statement.
The group will sell 25 percent of its share capital or almost 57 million shares. Final pricing is expected on October 3 when conditional dealing will start.
The vehicles have a long-running association with James Bond, having made their debut in 1964 film “Goldfinger” and more recently in 2015’s “Spectre.”
The carmaker does however have a troubled history, having declared itself bankrupt multiple times.
“Aston Martin has a chequered past, having gone bust seven times in its 105-year history, though recent performance seems to be turning a corner,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laith Khalaf.
“The luxury carmaker is looking to ramp up production, expanding into the SUV market and building its presence in China.
“The key to success will be increasing the number of models on the road while maintaining the exclusivity of the brand.
“On that front, having the world’s most famous fictional spy as a brand ambassador is an asset most marketing departments can only dream of,” Khalaf added.
Palmer also said Thursday that the company’s turnaround over the last four years has had a “profound” effect on the UK economy, having invested in manufacturing and engineering — and creating thousands of jobs.
The hotly anticipated initial public offering (IPO) will value it at between £4.0 billion and £5.1 billion, targeting institutional investors, employees, customers and owners’ club members.
Aston Martin, which was founded in a small London workshop, has been transformed into an ultra-luxury brand whose classic car owners include heir to the British throne Prince Charles.
Based in Gaydon, central England, the company is controlled by Italian private equity fund Investindustrial and Kuwaiti investors. German carmaker Daimler also holds a 5.0 percent stake.
Aston Martin boss Palmer recently sounded the alarm over the possibility of Britain crashing out the European Union next March without a divorce deal.
Brexit is “a disaster for the industry on both sides of the Channel if there is no negotiated exit,” he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
The UK’s wider car manufacturing sector has repeatedly warned about potential Brexit fallout.
While Britain has a strong automaking industry, the brands have fallen into foreign ownership over recent decades, with Germany’s BMW buying Rolls-Royce and Mini, Volkswagen taking control of Bentley, and Jaguar-Land Rover being snapped up by Indian giant Tata Motors.


Huawei’s third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

Updated 32 min 21 sec ago

Huawei’s third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

  • American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts
  • Huawei was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies

SHENZHEN, SHANGHAI: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s third-quarter revenue jumped 27%, driven by a surge in shipments of smartphones launched before a trade blacklisting by the United States expected to hammer its business.
Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecom network equipment and the No. 2 manufacturer of smartphones, was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts.
The company has been granted a reprieve until November, meaning it will lose access to some technology next month. Huawei has so far mainly sold smartphones that were launched before the ban.
Its newest Mate 30 smartphone — which lacks access to a licensed version of Google’s Android operating system — started sales last month.
Huawei in August said the curbs would hurt less than initially feared, but could still push its smartphone unit’s revenue lower by about $10 billion this year.
The tech giant did not break down third-quarter figures but said on Wednesday revenue for the first three quarters of the year grew 24.4% to 610.8 billion yuan.
Revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to 165.29 billion yuan ($23.28 billion) according to Reuters calculations based on previous statements from Huawei.
“Huawei’s overseas shipments bounced back quickly in the third quarter although they are yet to return to pre-US ban levels,” said Nicole Peng, vice president for mobility at consultancy Canalys.
“The Q3 result is truly impressive given the tremendous pressure the company is facing. But it is worth noting that strong shipments were driven by devices launched pre-US ban, and the long-term outlook is still dim,” she added.
The company said it has shipped 185 million smartphones so far this year. Based on the company’s previous statements and estimates from market research firm Strategy Analytics, that indicates a 29% surge in third-quarter smartphone shipments.
Still, growth in the third quarter slowed from the 39% increase the company reported in the first quarter. Huawei did not break out figures for the second quarter either, but has said revenue rose 23.2% in the first half of the year.
“Our continued strong performance in Q3 shows our customers’ trust in Huawei, our technology and services, despite the actions and unfounded allegations against us by some national governments,” Huawei spokesman Joe Kelly told Reuters.
The US government alleges Huawei is a national security risk as its equipment could be used by Beijing to spy. Huawei has repeatedly denied its products pose a security threat.
The company, which is now trying to reduce its reliance on foreign technology, said last month that it has started making 5G base stations without US components.
It is also developing its own mobile operating system as the curbs cut its access to Google’s Android operating system, though analysts are skeptical that Huawei’s Harmony system is yet a viable alternative.
Still, promotions and patriotic purchases have driven Huawei’s smartphone sales in China — surging by a nearly a third compared to a record high in the June quarter — helping it more than offset a shipments slump in the global market.