Does this leave Aston open to a takeover from another car maker?
We’re actually more vulnerable today. One company has only got to convince one or two shareholders, get them to agree and then they’ve got over half the company. Going public, we have tens of thousands of shareholders, and we’re protected on some effects. You could acquire shares by stealth, but when you get to 3% you’d have to declare. We’re aware of predators, but I’ve said to my team to make the company as valuable as possible so they can’t afford us.
Who would you describe as predators?
Aston has always been a jewel, but we’re quite different now with Daimler as a shareholder [it owns 5% of Aston and supplies it with Mercedes engines and components]. But, with that, we’re a bit of a poison pill; if other car makers come in, Daimler can consider them a rival and not supply parts. Of our initial 25%, we’re looking for long-term investors.
Is the IPO designed to raise money for Aston?
It’s not to raise money for us. All funds are secured and this is more for shareholders to get a return on their investment. It’s also about bringing good governance to the company, so we can have success in our second century. I hope to leave a legacy behind, with an independent chairman and board, a structure that is secure and stops us making the mistakes of the past.
How significant a day is this for Aston?
This is huge for the company, but also huge for the country. We’ll be the only car company on the FTSE, the only one independent and British-owned. Other car makers are owned by foreign car makers and owners, we’ll be owned by the British public. We hope what we’re doing is something that the country can be proud of, something to give to young engineers and craftsman and give people the same opportunities this industry gave me in 1979.