Mercedes-Benz CEO denies Aston Martin buy-out rumours

Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius has firmly denied rumours that the firm is planning to take a controlling stake in Aston Martin.

Speaking to Autocar following the presentation of a new brand strategy this week, Källenius strongly denied the reports the company was set to increase its 5% shareholding in the British brand, with which it has a technical partnership in both passenger cars and Formula 1 through its AMG performance car division.

“No, we’re not going to take industrial control of Aston Martin. But we have a very successful co-operation with Aston Martin and that will continue,” said Källenius.

The denial of the long-rumoured Aston Martin takeover comes after Mercedes-Benz announced sweeping changes to its operations, including a renewed focus on luxury and electrification, specifically through its EQ, AMG, Maybach and new G (Geländerwagen) sub-brands.

In announcing the changes, Källenius said Mercedes-Benz aimed to reduce its fixed costs by up to 20% before 2025 through cuts in personnel, administration and research and development spending.

Mercedes-Benz’s current 5% shareholding in Aston Martin was cemented in a technical partnership originally forged with AMG in 2013.

Since then, Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin have gradually increased their level of co-operation to include the supply of V8 petrol engines, electric platforms and, most recently, a sharing of hybrid drivetrains and intellectual property pertaining to components used in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team’s FW10 and FW11 race cars, and the Racing Point RP20 – the latter of which will switch to Aston Martin branding in 2021.

Speculation of a possible Mercedes-Benz takeover intensified back in May when AMG chairman Tobias Moers was chosen to replace Andy Palmer as the CEO of Aston Martin.

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Previously, it had been reported that AMG Formula 1 boss Toto Wolf had purchased 14.5 million shares in Aston Martin at a price of £7.975 million in a deal initiated by Canadian billionaire and Aston Martin majority shareholder Lawrence Stroll, through his investment company Yew Tree Overseas Ltd.

Stroll, who has built a claimed £1.5 billion fortune through investments in fashion brands Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors, initiated a 16.7% buyout of Aston Martin in January at a price of £182 million.

Stroll’s investment formed part of £500 million in emergency funding provided to Aston Martin, which raised a further £207 million in equity and debt in June.  

Under its chairman, Dieter Zetsche, Mercedes-Benz explored the possibility of using Aston Martin to coach build limited edition Maybach models. However, plans in this direction were abandoned after the construction of a secret concept car that was never shown in public, according to Mercedes-Benz officials privy to earlier dealings between the two car makers.

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