Daimler to acquire Aston Martin stake under technology, engine pact

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BERLIN (Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG will own as much as 5 percent of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. as part of an agreement to supply the British sports-car maker with technology.

Daimler’s Mercedes-AMG high-performance division will develop V-8 engines with the U.K. company for Aston Martin’s next-generation models, the manufacturers said today in a joint statement.

Daimler will receive shares without voting rights in the non-cash deal. The stake will rise as the cooperation develops.

“This agreement is a real win-win for both sides,” Tobias Moers, head of Mercedes-AMG, said in the statement. Daimler will have observer status on Aston Martin’s board.

Aston Martin, the only global luxury-auto producer that doesn’t belong to a larger manufacturing group, is seeking to limit spending on new models as the maker of the $260,000 Rapide competes with Volkswagen AG’s Bentley and Fiat SpA’s Ferrari and Maserati.

AMG makes the similarly priced SLS gull-wing supercar.

Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand ranks third in worldwide sales behind BMW AG’s namesake marque and Volkswagen’s Audi nameplate. The cooperation with the U.K. maker of cars featured in James Bond movies gives Daimler a toehold in the ultra-luxury segment after it shuttered the unprofitable Maybach brand in 2011.

Volkswagen’s Bentley has expanded its lineup into sports cars such as the Continental GT Speed to challenge Gaydon, England-based Aston Martin.

The VW division announced plans on July 23 to build the world’s most expensive sport-utility vehicle. BMW’s Rolls-Royce is also pushing into more performance-oriented models with the $234,000 Wraith coupe.

Hand-made engines

AMG, based in the Stuttgart suburb of Affalterbach, is known for hand-made engines embossed with a signature badge of the technician who assembled it. The division makes the manufacturer’s most expensive cars. The all-electric version of the SLS supercar tops the scales costing 416,500 euros.

In addition to the AMG engine agreement, the companies are in talks for Daimler to provide electronic components to Aston Martin and are investigating other areas of cooperation. Today’s agreement between the carmakers formalizes an initial accord from July.

Aston Martin laid out plans in January to invest 500 million pounds ($819 million) over the next four years.

The carmaker, which turned 100 this year and sold 3,800 vehicles in 2012, is backed by London-based Investindustrial, a private-equity fund whose previous assets include high-end motorcycle maker Ducati, which Audi bought last year.

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