British luxury carmaker Aston Martin is accelerating into its second century with record sales and a plan to go public.
Insiders told the Financial Times that the company, whose hand-crafted cars are James Bond’s preferred ride, would aim for a £5 billion ($6.4 billion) valuation and float at least a quarter of the stocks. CEO Andy Palmer wants to complete the IPO by the end of the year; a prospectus should be available around September 20.
“This is a monumental moment,” Palmer told the FT. “When I started in 1979, there were lots of British car companies. Over the course of my career those have disappeared. Car making in the U.K. is in a healthy state, but companies are foreign owned. Now we will have an independent British car company again.”
Italy’s Invest Industrial and the Kuwait’s Investment Dar will sell down some of the shares they own in Aston Martin, while Daimler, which owns 4.9% of the company, will remain a shareholder and technology partner.
The IPO will test investors’ appetite for investing in the United Kingdom with Brexit looming on the horizon. Aston Martin sells about 25% of its cars to the European Union, but Palmer told Reuters he’s not worried about potential tariffs post-Brexit.
The road hasn’t always been smooth for the firm: In its first century, Aston Martin went through seven bankruptcies. Now the company seems to be on the right track. The company reported 2017 revenues of $1.2 billion, up 48% from the prior year, thanks to growing demand in Asia.
Revenues were up, though sales were down in the first half of this year, slipping to 2,299 from 2,439 sold during the same time in 2017. Aston Martin expects to sell 6,200 to 6,400 vehicles per year, and up to nearly 10,000 when its second manufacturing plant in Wales comes online. Its entry-level Vantage starts at $150,000, and the top-of-the-line Vanquish starts at $295,000.