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Aston Martin: Tractor Firm 'Among Bidders'

(c) Sky News 2012

An Indian tractor firm could become the new co-owner of James Bond's favourite car-maker, Aston Martin.

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has reportedly offered more than £250m for a stake of up to 50% in the sports car brand - exceeding a bid by an Italian private equity firm.

Aston's owners, Kuwait's Investment Dar, are selling a chunk of the car company to inject cash into research and development, according to sources familiar with the talks speaking to The Times.

The company is said to have been struggling in recent years to find the funds needed to keep up with the technology spends of its rivals.

Aston, which produces its cars in Warwickshire, would be attractive to M&M in that the Mumbai-based firm has long been on the lookout for a prestige car brand.

It had previously shown interest in Jaguar Land Rover, ahead of its purchase by Tata, and in Saab.

Investors reacted cautiously to the proposed offer, with M&M shares losing almost 3% of their value in Monday's trading.

Brokerage Edelweiss said in a note that Aston Martin would require significant investments and the benefits of technology transfer to the Indian tractor and utility vehicle maker's product portfolio would be "questionable" given the lack of similarity between the two companies' stables.

The Times suggested Investindustrial - the Italian rival for the stake - has one ace up its sleeve in the bidding war because of an existing partnership with Mercedes (Xetra: 710000 - news) -Benz.

Aston, which was bought from Ford (NYSE: F - news) in 2007, remains one of the world's most desirable luxury car brands - thanks in part to its association with the Bond movie franchise.

It shot to fame in 1964 when Goldfinger, starring Sean Connery, was released.

The Aston Martin DB5 - complete with its famous ejector-seat - used in the film returned in the latest Daniel Craig movie, Skyfall.