Morgan Motor Company: sold to the Italians, but looking up

Published: 06 March 2019

► Investindustrial buys controlling stake
► Italian venture capitalist will fund expansion
► Malvern factory to grow, new models follow

Morgan’s proud claim of being the largest remaining British car company is no longer true, following the surprise announcement that it has sold a significant stake to the Italian venture capitalist firm Investindustrial. Although the move ends the Morgan family’s exclusive ownership of its eponymous car maker, managing director Steve Morris told CAR at the 2019 Geneva motor show that the move will facilitate expansion at Malvern Link as well as provide serious investment for future model development.

The deal, which according to Morris, was put together in less than six months, was sealed for an undisclosed sum, and sees Investindustrial become the largest shareholder in the business. The Morgan family remains involved, and will retain a share, while the management and staff pick up a stake in the business, too.

Morris – who started as an apprentice at Morgan 36 years ago - informed staff back in Malvern via video, just before the press briefing in Geneva. ‘The company is 110 years old, the industry is increasingly challenging, and we’re on the back of our two most successful years in history - the Morgan family felt that it was the right time. The deal with Investindustrial – who have achieved so much in the industry - is just such a perfect fit and opportunity for us, and it fits with everything we want,’ says Morris.

Expansion and new platforms on the way at Morgan

‘This new investment will most certainly allow us to invest in new platforms and the company’s base, and given their knowledge and pedigree, it’s going to be fantastic,’ Morris says. The Italian venture capitalist company currently has a 37.5% stake in Aston Martin, and previously oversaw the turnaround of motorcycle manufacturer Ducati before managing its sell-off to Volkswagen Group after buying up 100% of the company’s shares.

The current partnership between BMW and Morgan to provide drivetrains for the existing model range will remain unaffected by the deal. ‘Our partnership with BMW is fundamentally strategic for us,’ Morris says. ‘We spent 20 years building that, and it’s very much part of the future.’

Electrification on hold, but not ruled out for the future

Morgan’s order books are currently brimming, and according to Morris, 2019 is shaping up to be another ‘fantastic year’, but clearly customers prefer their Morgans to be petrol powered. ‘EV3 is currently on hold,’ he says. ‘Obviously, this is day one of the new deal, but we’re looking at the products and portfolio, but most certainly that’s on our radar for the future, yes.’

Morgan wants to grow, though. It recently started Saturday shifts in order to meet demand, and Morris praises the commitment from the staff in making it happen. ‘We currently make 750 cars. In 2012, we made 1170 cars. There is a plan to step ourselves up, but we’re certainly not looking to become a 5000-cars a year manufacturer – but we do have a plan for growth, which will manage properly.’

With the Aero now out of production, Morgan is currently looking to replace it with a new range-topper. ‘That has left us with an opportunity,’ Morris says. Although the company is doing well, the lack of a top-end halo model means that the range isn’t where Morris would like it to be.

‘Never say never. Would we do something? If the rewards were there, of course we will! But right now, we’re focusing on delivery and sating customer demand.’

How does Brexit affect Morgan?

A case of keep calm and carry on. ‘We’ve just come off the back of two of the best years in our history,’ Morris says. ‘Economically, we’re in a good place. The biggest worry about a no-deal Brexit would be around legislation. I believe we will get through what we need to do, and carry on.’

By Keith Adams

Devout classic Citroen enthusiast, walking car encyclopedia, and long-time contributor to CAR