Aston Martin buy could make Mahindra the new auto Bond

Aston Martin

While it could be the last bastion to fall for Britain's automotive industry, Mahindra & Mahindra's (M&M) speculated bid for a significant stake in sports car maker, Aston Martin, seems to be the perfect ride for the firm that is looking to move up the value chain with a more complete automotive portfolio.

M&M is reportedly one of the two front-running bidders for a 50% stake in Aston Martin for a value of about 250-300 million pounds (R2,600 crore approx). Kuwait's Investment Dar is majority shareholder in the company. Mahindra competes with European group InvestIndustrial, which has offered a technology tie-up with Germany's Daimler AG that makes Mercedes-Benz cars.

However, M&M's advantage is a large existing automotive business with many group component firms that can help Aston Martin reduce cost of operations through backend synergies in sourcing.

Analysts feel that if the deal goes through, M&M may alas gain a foothold and distribution in the American car market, that has long been delayed owing to a legal tussle with an ex-distributor. The buyout will give the Mumbai-based automaker, which focuses on utility vehicles and also makes commercial rides and two-wheelers, access to high-end technology and platforms. It had also acquired South Korean SUV maker Ssangyong in 2010.

M&M is believed to have attempted other global acquisitions as well Jaguar Land Rover in 2007 from Ford and Sweden's SAAB in 2012.

"M&M historically has seen success in taking assets at good prices, so till date it has not been a victim of the buyer's curse. For an investor, the company may not mean much, but for M&M its very important with the synergies they expect.

Till now a mass market player, their priorities will change as they focus on higher value product rather than just high volumes," said VG Ramakrishnan, managing director, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia.

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