James Bond's car of choice may return to UK ownership in £500m private equity deal

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Aston Martin, the luxury carmaker put up for sale by the US giant Ford, could return to British ownership, it emerged yesterday.

The UK private equity groups Permira and Alchemy Partners were said to be preparing bids of up to £500m along with the US buyout firm Texas Pacific Group.

Aston Martin was put for sale earlier this year as part of an attempt by Ford to restructure its balance sheet.

Aston Martin is expected to fetch a premium price with analysts valuing it anywhere between £350m and £1bn, but it is understood no carmaker has expressed an interest in taking on the business ahead of a first-round bidding deadline at the end of this month.

Aston Martin is based in Gaydon, Warwickshire, and has around 1,700 workers at Gaydon and Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire. It was made famous through its appearances in James Bond films. The Aston Martin DBS features in the latest film Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig in his debut as 007, which is out next week.

Another bidder is the former Ford chief executive Jacques Nasser, now a partner at JPMorgan Chase's private equity arm, One Equity Partners, according to one weekend report.

A spokesman for Permira declined to comment and no one was available from Alchemy Partners.