Sep 15th 2006 10:42AM All doom and gloom? Well not really ... at least for a while.
Aston Martin if spun off to say an investment buyout firm would survive quite nicely for a good decade based off the wise investments Ford has made in the manufacturing plant, assembly tools, training, etc as well as the designs already in development now. The products now are very well received by the press and buyers so it is by no means a "dog with fleas".
That said I'm sure the new owners would milk the brand image for all its worth in merchandising/licensing to recoup the investment and make a profit.
The problems arise a few years out with new capital requirements necessary to refresh designs, fuel innovations with R&D, as well as keeping up with regulations in particular the DOT/EPA requirements in the US. We all saw VW/Bugatti whine about the airbag rule requirements - and financial burden - on the horizon.
I suspect that if AM isn't part of (or at least closely linked to) a large auto giant any investment buyout group will start to cut back on needed capital. Owning a niche automaker just isn't profitable all the time no matter what brand you are. Porsche after the 1980's was in terrible trouble, they rebounded, but no one can say for certainty that AM could survive alone with a couple of red-letter years if it happens.
Beautiful, fast, and well made cars today. I really hope the best buyers in the interest of the marque can be found.
Sep 10th 2006 11:00PM While perhaps to some saying your house was owned by Eddie Murphy means something extra, the buyer of this property is certainly paying a premium at almost $10M for it.
In Dutchess Co. there are plenty (ok, several) far more lovely estates in excellent condition with more sprawling or at least more inspired lands available for less. YOu can add this property onto the one Eddie is also trying to flip in Jersey for a mega price.
A buyer wishing to venture into nearby Columbia County could buy, for example, the former Rothschild family [that trumps any cache of 'Eddie owned' by a country mile] owned Deep Acres Farm for just $5.95M and almost 400 acres with a magnificent manor house.
Sep 7th 2006 4:40PM CK Dexter-Haven, for purposes unknown the estate is listed as being Upperville. So be that for tax purposes (or whatever) it puts the sprawling property technically out of Loudoun Co. However we agree roughly on the manor house location.
It is one of the nicest offerings, from an imposing presentation, to come on the market in years. The last that I can recall of this calibre was the former Walter Chrysler estate "North Wales" in Warrenton, bought by Dallas-based Michael Prentiss. To a lesser extent, due to its terrible shape at the time of sale, the nearby "Ayrshire Farm" bought by Cisco founder Sandy Lerner.
A lot of nice residence have come on the market in recent years which are 'smaller' (but still very pricy) from "St. Brides" in Upperville to Mary Schwab's "Stoneleigh" on the edge of Middleburg to 1990's sales such as Sen. Warner's "Atoka", Jack Kent Cooke's "Kent Farms" and John Cooke's more recent purchase of "Boxwood".
At $22M I think the property is priced quite right with other completed sales in the area like Bolinvar (~ $16M) which had less acreage and a a notch lower prestige/history factor.
Sep 6th 2006 1:35PM It really is a showcase estate in Virginia's Hunt Country of Fauquier Co. The former "Liz" Whitney Tippett (nee Mary Elizabeth Altemus, then Whitney, then Tippett) estate is now owned by Roy & Lila Ash who bought it from possible development in an auction 1989. Roy also own Huntland Farms, which too is on the market for $17.8 million. Together the farms (plus another) are noted for raising beef cattle on 1,800 acres with award winning management.
Mr Ash is also a resident of Los Angeles, CA where today he's cut back to just his Ash Capital Partnership firm. His bio shows his business success with Litton Industries and significant government connections:
I would correct the above statement that the estate is "designed for the equestrian" as that is misleading. The property is fine for race horses, steeplechasers and a number of carriage horse events have been held there. However "equestrian" tends to suggest jumper/hunter/dressage of which no indoor or outdoor arena exists; the horseshoe styled main stable is designed for racers Mrs. Whitney had there.
Aug 31st 2006 5:59PM Quote: "I just can't believe that they sold nearly 10 360s per day over that period. Wow. No wonder they can afford an F1 team."
Afford is an interesting term. It is certainly an interlocked part of the company but no profits come from F1 and frankly almost no profits come from the auto making side either. (An exception being the FXX as the tooling in large part was already paid for with the Enzo program) Almost all of the money made by Ferrari is, year after year, from merchandising.
From the clothing to Barbie dolls to luggage to pens and models, that is where the money is. Licensing the name will always bring in the real money. F1 keeps the immediate name recognition going in large part and pumping in hundreds of millions a year into it keeps it linked to winning.
Of course some of us recall the early to mid 1980's when the F1 team sucked, the GT racers were nonexistent, and the road cars while stylish were not exactly head of the class.
While the factory doesn't see any money from it I'd prefer to view the F355 cars as being the best entry level Ferrari. Used ones can easily be had, they are still world class, and most buyers today really couldn't hack a temperamental older Ferrari like a 512BBi or even a 328. I won't mention the 348 TS/TB cars as they were some of the worst cars made by the factory in recent years.
Aug 31st 2006 5:17PM If I was part of the Aston Martin leadership I'd be begging to be acquired by BMW long before a host of other would-be buyers. They have the deep resources from skilled people to immediate capital to the racing devotion to ensure the brand doesn't die.
It would be a shame, for example, if another Russian millionaire bought them up like TVR was.
I think the suggested $1B US price is amazing - who would ever pay that much for a low volume automaker even with a sterling reputation? Yes their designs are fresh now, factory is updated and tools/stamping et al is modern so the new owners *could* delay massive investments.
Still it would many decades, without a single more dime invested, before the new owners even get a portion of that back. Keep in mind VW paid a fraction of that for Lamborghini, then pumped in over a hundred million and now will make (profit) just a bit over a million a year.
Hey if buyers [including the fashion companies] are that hot to buy a luxury auto brand why not snatch up say a DeTomaso SpA for next to nothing? Or offer $50M for TVR, thus giving the tyke an easy exit from owning the money losing company.
Aug 31st 2006 4:12PM While I wouldn't say it dilutes the brand, the benefit for an entry Ferrari [below the 430] is debatable. How many hundreds of millions of Euro for new tooling, training, and other resources would be required and what would the return be.
Yes Ferrari could slap their badge on a children's tricycle and it would sell, but why do it for quick bucks. The Porsche 924 might have introduced new buyers to brand ownership, but they were nothing more then Audi/VW parts with the premium badge. The Ferrari brass doesn't exactly boast about having made the 308GT/4 (Bertone styled - not the 308 of Pinnin) today.
In fact there is a lot of risk to the brand. At a $70,000 price point, for example, the competition is fierce and putting in a car that might lag behind a Jaguar but costs the same more won't help the name Ferrari.