LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Aston Martin owner Investment Dar has received competing bids from Investindustrial and Mahindra & Mahindra for half of the sports car maker, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
Investindustrial, a European private-equity fund based in London, offered just under 250 million pounds ($401 million), said the people. Indian automaker Mahindra trumped the offer with a higher bid, they said.
Investindustrial earlier this year sold Italian motorcycle maker Ducati Motor to Volkswagen's Audi brand.
Investment Dar was part of the group that bought Aston Martin from Ford Motor Co. for 503 million pounds ($805 million) in 2007. It is seeking an investor for Aston Martin so it can pay off debt, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month.
The winning bidder will get 50 percent of the voting rights and a 40 percent equity stake, one of the people said. Investment Dar, the other Kuwaiti investors and Aston Martin management will retain the rest, the person said.
Officials at Investindustrial and Aston Martin declined to comment. Mahindra and Investment Dar did not respond to requests for comment outside of regular business hours. The talks were reported earlier by Private Equity News.
A new backer for the iconic British brand may help Aston Martin to boost volumes and develop cars that can challenge Bentley and Ferrari
Investindustrial's offer for Aston Martin includes plans to use technology and car parts from AMG, the Mercedes-Benz unit that makes sports cars, said two of the people. The buyout firm will invest in Aston Martin's existing models, and potentially add new vehicles, to attract buyers, they said.
An official at Daimler, which owns Mercedes, declined to comment.
While Aston Martin still gets engines from Ford, it lost access to Ford's other resources after the sale and remains the only global luxury brand that's not part of a larger auto group.
That independence could be a handicap with the auto industry under pressure to develop technologies to improve fuel efficiency. BMW is investing more than 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) this year on making engines more efficient and developing electric vehicles. That sum exceeds Aston Martin's 2011 revenue of 507 million pounds.
The bulk of Aston Martin's lineup consists of two-door coupes such as the DB9, Vanquish and Vantage. It also offers the Cygnet city car, which is based on Toyota Motor Corp.'s iQ.
Aston Martin's adjusted earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization last year fell 18 percent to 76.2 million pounds, with deliveries steady at about 4,200 vehicles.