Three of my favorite blogs,Luxist, High Snobiety and NOTCOT reported today the exciting news that LVMH (the parent company of Louis Vuitton) had purchased Ford's Aston Martin Company.
This, of course, sent visions of LV leather-clad Aston Martins touring around in our heads.
But according to Motor Trend, the reports are a bit premature. Can't blame these bloggers, they report the latest news and as of yesterday, that was the latest. However, the sale is now in question according to the latest from Motor Trend.
Motor Trend: Aston Martin sold, but maybe not to LVMHPosted Feb 2nd 2007 7:25PM by Alex Nunez
Motor Trend is disputing yesterday's published reports that Brit luxury/sports car manufacturer Aston Martin will be sold to Louis Vuitton. According to MT, which cites "well-placed" UK sources, Aston's bags are packed and ready to leave Ford, but they do not have that iconic "LV" logo on them. Apparently the buyer is a group of high-finance types we've never heard of. They're set to pony up around $1 billion for the storied automaker.
The sale is said to include the factory, and Ford is still expected to retain a stake in the company. Motor Trend can't resist needling Autobild and the blogosphere for (supposedly) getting the buyer wrong. (Marketwatch, the major outlet that ran the story yesterday, gets a pass.) Somewhat ironically, MT uses its own blog to get its version of the Aston saga out to the public.
UPDATE: MT has updated their post to reference the Marketwatch story that many outlets (including Autoblog) picked up on and reported.
[Source: Motor Trend]
But it does look as if an Aston sale is pending. The buyer will be a private investment firm with no names familiar to anybody outside the high-finance banking community. Rumored price is just a tad less than $1 billion.
LVMH did take a look at Aston late last year, but passed. One problem with a non-automotive buyer is that there’s a lot of cost and potential liability associated with purchasing a small automaker based in England. The Aston deal will include the factory, good news for the buyer, but that also includes the workers, which may not be.
As mentioned in the LVMH rumor, Ford should retain some interest in the sport-luxury brand, if for no other reason than to provide parts and components that could be shared with Jaguar and Land Rover.
The bottom line is the rumors of Ford selling Aston look solid. It’s the buyer that Autobild (picked up by Marketwatch and our friends in auto blogosphere) has wrong. Stay tuned for the latest on the Aston Martin sale drama from Motor Trend as the story develops.