Aston Martin turns to stock offering to bolster capital

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LONDON — Aston Martin said it would issue new shares worth up to 20 percent of its existing equity capital as the automaker seeks additional funds to ride out the coronavirus crisis.

The automaker has seen its share price plummet since floating in October 2018, from 19 pounds ($23.57) to about 70 pence.

New owner Yew Tree, led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, will pick up 25 percent of the offering, with Investindustrial, which has steadily reduced its holding in the company having previously been the main shareholder, planning to buy about 8 percent, the company said.

Aston Martin, which in May posted a deep first-quarter loss after sales dropped by nearly a third, also said its sales are expected to fall further in the second quarter compared with the first.

The company has been cutting jobs and streamlining its operations as it seeks to bring its cost base in line with its move to reduce sports car production levels.

“We are making very good progress on my first priority, the rebalancing of supply and demand and reducing dealer stock as we reset the business and restore exclusivity,” said Stroll, who is the company’s chairman and took over the role earlier this year after taking a 20 percent stake in the company.

As part of a turnaround, the company is reshuffling its management with the appointment of Tobias Moers, a former AMG boss, as CEO and Kenneth Gregor, a former finance chief at Jaguar Land Rover, as its new chief financial officer.

Aston Martin also said it had received approval for a Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) loan of 20 million pounds ($24.83 million).

The company has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, much like other automakers, with a lockdown to prevent the spread of the disease leading to a 97 percent annual plunge in British new-car sales in April, the lowest level of any month since February 1946.

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