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Aramco to take stake in Aston Martin?

The Saudi Arabian oil company has an option on a stake in the F1 team and could invest in the road car company.

The Aston Martin Lagonda (road car) company is embarking on another round of fund-raising to underwrite operational costs and new model development, a source with knowledge of the situation has told RacingNews365.com . Listed company AML, which sponsors the eponymous Formula 1 team, is said to have approached Saudi Arabian investors, including oil giant Aramco - the world’s largest oil company and primary sponsor of the associated Aston Martin F1 Team - and a Californian investment fund with a number of other motor industry holdings. Although the Aston Martin F1 Team is entirely separate from AML, they share a number of common shareholders, including the chairman of both entities, fashion mogul Lawrence Stroll, who engineered a branding deal for the team previously entered as Racing Point. The team currently occupies eighth in the championship, a point ahead of independent outfit Haas. Stroll Snr., who is the father of team driver Lance, is said to be unwilling to personally invest further in AML or AM F1, and hence the need for substantial outside investment, sweetened by the promise of AML board representation.

AML shares this month traded at an all-time low and the company has debt exposure of £1.2 billion, comprising of bonds, bank drafts and loans. It recently parted with CEO Tobias Moers, appointing 76-year-old Amedeo Felisa as interim CEO. The Italian was previously CEO of Ferrari. A shareholding in the team is potentially part of the overall deal. According to the team's company house filings, Aramco currently holds such an option as part of its sponsorship agreement. “Aramco has a contractual option to subscribe to 10 per cent of the ordinary share capital of AMR GP,” the spokesperson confirmed.

In October 2021, the F1 team announced plans for a new campus - including a state-of-art wind tunnel - and initially planned to fund the £250m project via a bond, but almost immediately shelved the plans. At the time a spokesperson for the team indicated that various options were under consideration and in December announced funding through Canyon, a Dallas-based investment manager. However, an inflow of Saudi funding would free up cash flow while reducing the team’s debt exposure. AML did not refute that funding is actively sought, with a spokesperson instead stating: “Aston Martin does not comment on rumour or speculation.” Aston Martin has survived seven bankruptcies to date, while the F1 team was bought out of administration in 2018.

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