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Magic Circle duo goes full throttle on Aston Martin’s landmark London listing

City heavyweights Slaughter and May and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have taken the driving seat on the proposed initial public offering (IPO) of Aston Martin, a float reportedly valuing the luxury car maker at £5bn.

Slaughters won the mandate advising Aston Martin with a corporate team led by Nilufer von Bismarck and including Roland Turnill and Filippo de Falco. The firm is working alongside Aston Martin’s general counsel (GC) Michael Marecki, while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is advising on US law, led by London-based partner Gil Strauss.

Freshfields, meanwhile, is advising the underwriters, with a team led by Mark Austin and including Charlie Hayes.

Aston Martin is understood to have watched with interest the 2015 IPO of Ferrari on the New York Stock Exchange and, amid strong financial results for the first half of 2018, deemed it the time right to follow suit.

If it goes ahead, the float will make Aston Martin the only independent British car manufacturer to be listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

In a LSE announcement published today (29 August), Aston Martin pointed to an 8% year-on-year uptick in revenue to £445m for the six months to 30 June 2018 and a 14% increase in adjusted EBITDA to £106m, compared with £93m for the first half of 2017.

‘The improved performance was primarily driven by increased revenue from sales of special edition vehicles, in particular the Vanquish Zagato family and DB4 GT Continuation models and revenue from the Aston Martin Consulting business,’ the announcement said.

The results are a fillip for a company that has a chequered financial history, having endured no fewer than 7 insolvencies over the years.

Austin told Legal Business: ‘This is the next step in a great turnaround story for Aston Martin and it’s also a good news story for the London IPO market, including in the context of Brexit. The transaction is notable for being the first to be announced since new IPO rules came into force on 1 July 2018 which, broadly require unconnected analysts to be involved in the transaction and for the registration document to be published before the prospectus.’

One City corporate partner added: ‘The IPO of Aston Martin has been anticipated as the next logical float after Ferrari’s and is also a logical way of giving liquidity to shareholders. The main driver for the regeneration of the company has been the new management team led by president and chief executive Andy Palmer, who have championed a vision for the creation of new brands and new models – a focus Aston Martin didn’t have before.’

The company’s refreshed strategy launched in 2015 and includes the opening of a new plant at St. Athan in Wales in 2019.

Palmer said: ‘Today’s results show that we have continued to deliver sustainable growth, margins and value for our shareholders whilst launching three new models and variants in the first half of the year. Since launching the Second Century Plan in 2015, Aston Martin Lagonda has been transformed into a luxury business focused on creating the world’s most beautiful high-performance cars. This transformation has delivered significant growth in revenues, unit volumes and profitability.

The strategy also encompasses branching out into other luxury vehicles, as well as the manufacture of planes and submarines.