Investindustrial buys 37.5 pct Aston Martin stake - sources

LONDON Fri Dec 7, 2012 5:15am EST

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LONDON Dec 7 (Reuters) - Italian private equity fund Investindustrial has signed a deal to buy 37.5 percent of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd from its Kuwaiti owner Investment Dar, two sources said on Friday.

The Italian group beat Indian tractor maker Mahindra and Mahindra in a two-way battle to invest in the iconic British sportscar maker.

There were no immediate details on price but Investindustrial had earlier bid between 200 million and 250 million pounds ($400 million) for a 50 percent stake and agreed on a technical partnership deal for Aston Martin with Daimler' AG's Mercedes, sources told Reuters last month.

Mahindra and Mahindra had been touted as the frontrunner to buy the stake but Investindustrial emerged as the favourite to seal the deal in recent days. Sources told Reuters on Thursday night that Investindustrial was close to sealing a deal.

Aston Martin makes the cars immortalised by James Bond films down the decades in Gaydon, Warwickshire, the heartland of England's early 20th century motor manufacturing heyday.

The 98-year-old maker of the DB9 and Vanquish sportscars has struggled in recent years. Last week Aston said it sold 2,340 cars in the year to Sept. 30, 19 percent fewer than last year.

The British company has cut costs but needs funds for research and development and to create new vehicles.

Investindustrial, owned by Italy's Bonomi family, is not new to luxury motor brands. In 2006, it bought Italian motorcycle maker Ducati and sold it for about 860 million euros last April to Volkswagen's Audi division.

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