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Aston Martin names chairman ahead of October London listing

Munich

ASTON Martin, maker of luxury sports cars for James Bond, is moving ahead with a plan to list shares in London, naming Penny Hughes as chairman in a break from its tradition of an all-male board.

The manufacturer will trade on the London Stock Exchange next month, with a free float of at least 25 per cent of the issued share capital and Daimler AG converting its holding of about 4.9 per cent to ordinary shares, the company said on Monday.

The manufacturer of cars made famous through the spy movie franchise is said to target a valuation of five billion pounds (S$8.9 billion), which would approach Ferrari NV's multiples.

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The offering will allow the carmaker's shareholders to cash out with a potential 10-fold return - months before the UK leaves the European Union. While the UK's post-Brexit automotive industry is one of the sectors most exposed to potential trade hurdles, the split wasn't a large factor in the IPO calculations, chief financial officer Mark Wilson has said.

Aston Martin is controlled by London-based Investindustrial Advisors Ltd and Kuwaiti Investment Dar.

The car-maker expects to deliver between 6,200 units and 6,400 units this year and achieve a profit margin of about 23 per cent, said the company in its statement.

Production will rise to as many as 9,800 units in 2020.

Like its Italian rival, the British marque has broadened beyond cars, experimenting with Aston Martin-styled yachts and apartments; it has also opened a store in London's Mayfair shopping district, where it sells branded shirts and baby strollers to wealthy patrons.

Ms Hughes, whose board experience includes positions at Vodafone and the Royal Bank of Scotland, said: "I am impressed by the turnaround that has been achieved.

"Private shareholders have displayed successful long-term stewardship to date."

In addition to her, Aston Martin named five other independent directors, including two other women, Imelda Walsh and Tensie Whelan.

If it didn't add women to the board, the company would have become one of about 10 companies within the UK's benchmark FTSE 350 equities gauge to still have an all-male boardroom at a time when the government is urging businesses to ensure that a third of their directors are female by 2020.

The indicative price range for the IPO is expected to be announced in a prospectus around Sept 20, with the final offer price early next month, the statement said.

Joint global coordinators for the offering are Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs International and J. P. Morgan Securities, which is also acting as sole sponsor.

Lazard the financial adviser to the company. BLOOMBERG