March 11, 2007 / 12:30 PM / 12 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kuwait firms agree buying Aston Martin stake-source

(Updates with agreement reached in first paragraph)

By H. Hashim Ahmed

KUWAIT, March 11 (Reuters) - Kuwait’s Investment Dar TIDK.KW and Adeem Investment Co. agreed to buy a stake in Aston Martin, the iconic British carmaker made famous by the James Bond spy movies, an Investment Dar official told Reuters.

The two companies, which share Kuwait’s Efad Holding as a stockholder, are inviting journalists to an 0900 GMT signing ceremony in London on Monday to give more details about the agreement, said the official, who did not want to be identified.

“The deal has been approved. Monday is just for public relations,” the official said from Kuwait.

The two companies will own a minority stake in the Ford Motor Co. (F.N) unit, said the official, unable to give further details.

Kuwait’s Al-Qabas newspaper on Sunday reported that Investment Dar, Kuwait’s largest diversified holding company, is leading a group of companies to buy a 15-20 percent stake in Aston Martin for about 400 million pounds ($772.6 million).

Asked if the report was correct, one of two Investment Dar officials, who declined to be identified, told Reuters earlier on Sunday: “Yes, but right now I have no information available to deliver to you. We have to wait until tomorrow, then we can discuss it.”

Adnan al-Mussallam, Investment Dar’s chairman, and Walid al-Humaidhi, Efad’s chairman, could not immediately be reached for comment. They are in London. Mustafa al-Saleh, Adeem’s CEO, is also out of Kuwait and could not immediately be reached.

Adeem is an investment and asset management company that complies with Islamic law, which bans investment in industries such as alcohol, gambling and weapons. Efad Holding has interests in real estate, contracting and hospitality.

Ford, which lost $12.7 billion last year, said it planned to sell all or part of Aston Martin to raise funds for other businesses. Aston Martin sales rose by half last year to about 6,500 units, a Ford official said in January.

Trading in shares of Investment Dar was halted in Kuwait pending the announcement of an important investment deal, the bourse said in a statement on its Web site.

Other bidders for Aston Martin included Dave Richards, head of the performance car specialist Prodrive. He was bidding with Egypt’s Naeem (NAHO.CA) investment bank.

British buyout firm Doughty Hanson and Syrian-born property tycoon Simon Halabi also submitted second-round offers for Aston Martin in an auction being run by investment bank UBS AG UBSN.VX, sources familiar with the matter said last month.

With reporting by Daliah Merzaban in Dubai

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