Aston Martin on the blocks

Aston Martin's controlling shareholder, Investment Dar Co., has approached potential buyers for the maker of luxury sports cars featured in James Bond movies, five people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg.

The Kuwaiti company, which owns 64 percent of Aston Martin, has hired Rothschild to advise on the sale, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., the Indian automaker, is among potential suitors Investment Dar has approached in recent few months, two of the people said.

A sale has proven difficult because investors haven't been willing to match the price the Kuwaiti owner paid Ford Motor Co. five years ago, said two of the people. Investment Dar has sought about $800 million for its stake, one person said.

Aston Martin vehicles have been featured in 11 James Bond movies, including the vintage silver DB5 in the latest one, "Skyfall."

For Kuwait's Investment Dar, part of the group that bought Gaydon, U.K.- based Aston Martin for 503 million pounds ($805 million) in 2007, the proceeds would help the company pay off debt. A new backer for Aston Martin may help the maker of the 1.2-million-pound One-77 to develop cars that can challenge Volkswagen AG's Bentley and Fiat SpA's Ferrari.

"I don't think you can truly compete without having the capabilities of a large car company behind you," said John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst. "There are very few examples of sustained success without it."

A representative at Investment Dar who asked not to be named denied the company is seeking to sell Aston Martin.

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