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Aston Martin and Mercedes 'to strike €300m deal'

By Georg Kacher

Motor Industry

22 October 2008 21:25

CAR Online today lifts the lid on the secret deal – codenamed Romeo and Juliet – being hammered out between Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz. We have sensational details of the alliance, including a plan for hybrid Aston Martins, the full range of proposed Lagonda models and even a possible DB10 and 4x4 from the Aston Martin Lagonda stable.

Back in August 2008, we revealed how the British sports car maker was in talks with the German giant over future cooperation (read our original Aston-Merc scoop here). Now we publish the latest news on a wide-ranging €300 million (£240m) deal that could see Gaydon and Stuttgart work much more closely together.

Read CAR's exclusive report over the next four pages.

Project Romeo and Juliet: the background

When they first starting talking, the relatively modest €20m cooperation plan for Aston Martin and Mercedes/Maybach was, like a hostile takeover bid, named Project Alligator.

But now the two parties have drastically increased the scope of the potential alliance. Valued at €300m (£240m) minimum, the new deal is known as Romeo and Juliet. You don't need to be a Shakespeare scholar to work out this is a proposed English-German love story. But will it end up as a tragedy? Scores of Aston fans might not be keen for their next model to have the beating heart of a Mercedes...

The Aston-Mercedes deal: the men behind it

This new relationship has been agreed at the highest level by Aston Martin Lagonda chairman Ulrich Bez and Daimler supremo Dieter Zetsche. Although it's still early days, we hear this fledgling relationship could end up with Mercedes taking a minority interest in the UK-based sports car maker. Today Aston Martin is controlled by a consortium of Arabian investors.

Says a senior source at Daimler: 'Our agreement with McLaren won't last forever [Mercedes holds a 40 percent stake in McLaren]. There will be no replacement for the SLR, and as soon as the price is right, we are interested in taking over the F1 business. This opens up all sorts of opportunities for a new partner with strong know-how in terms of coachbuilding and bespoke vehicles.'

Step forward Aston Martin. The deal makes sense on various levels and, although denied by the official PR handlers, CAR has confirmed that talks are in fact intensifying.

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