Packer to be latest bidder for Aston Martin

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The Independent Online

James Packer, the son of the late media tycoon Kerry, has joined the list of possible bidders for the British luxury car maker put up for sale by Ford last year.

Australia's richest man is believed to be part of a consortium made up of industrial and financial investors competing against a handful of other bidders for the marque.

The UK private-equity groups Permira, Doughty Hanson and Alchemy Partners are said to be preparing bids of up to £500m along with the US buyout firm Texas Pacific Group. It is understood that some of the more headline-grabbing bidders such as Jacques Nasser, the former Ford chief executive now a partner at JP Morgan Chase's private-equity arm, have fallen by the wayside.

Mr Packer's reported interest in Aston Martin follows his recent purchase of a £16m three-floor apartment in London's Mayfair. But his interest in the brand surprised business and car-dealing circles in Australia yesterday, marking a significant departure from his major business interests in media, gaming and financial services.

"I would be very surprised to think he would be involved," Neville Crichton, director of the Australian car importer Ateco told the newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald. "I think it's making a little bit of money with Ford, but historically it's lost a fortune."

Aston Martin is based in Gaydon, Warwickshire, and has about 1,700 workers at Gaydon and Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire. Analysts have estimated that the brand could be worth more than £600m.

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