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Kuwaiti investor takes stake in Prodrive

Solid growth: Prodrive has established a major presence in the global car industry as well as motor sport.

FPV says it will not be affected by its British parent’s 40 per cent sell-off

19 Nov 2008

THE Kuwaiti company that bought Aston Martin has now taken a 40 per cent stake in Prodrive, which owns Ford’s Australian special vehicles and racing operations – Ford Performance Vehicles and Ford Performance Racing.

Prodrive chairman David Richards will remain the majority shareholder in the company, which also does engineering work for car-makers globally and runs the Subaru and Aston Martin race programs.

Prodrive Asia-Pacific managing director Bryan Mears told GoAuto that the overall control of the company has not changed and that the local operations - which includes FPV and contract assembly work for Toyota's TRD operation - will not be affected.

The Investment Dar Company (known as TID), which is based in Kuwait, was one of the main financial forces behind Mr Richards’ purchase of Aston Martin from Ford in 2007 at a cost of around $1.2 billion.

 center imageLeft: Prodrive chairman David Richards.

“Through Aston Martin, I have worked closely with TID for the last two years and, as a result, TID has also gained a great insight into Prodrive’s expertise and our culture,” said Mr Richards, who is also the chairman of Aston Martin.

“They very much share our vision for the business and the passion for what we do. With their experience and understanding of the motor industry, they will play a significant role in the long term development of the business.

“Although we are best known for running motorsport programs for Subaru and Aston Martin, we also work with vehicle manufacturers to develop new technology for the road.

“This investment follows a year of planning, during which time we have identified a number of opportunities to expand our motorsport and road car activities.” Mr Richards noted that the TID investment comes at a time when vehicle manufacturers are facing the immediate challenge of difficult trading conditions and the longer term technological challenge of reducing CO2 emissions.

“Our business is ultimately about helping our customers to sell cars, not only their current models, but future products as well.

“I see a great opportunity to expand our current work developing the new generation of environmental technologies such as hybrid cars, hydrogen fuel cells and variable compression ratio engines. With our unique motorsport approach, we can rapidly take these technologies from concept to reality.” Prodrive was founded in 1984 by Mr Richards, who was previously a top-flight rally navigator, and today employs around 1000 people in the UK, Australia, China and Thailand.

In that past 25 years, Prodrive has won six World Rally Championship titles with Subaru, five British Touring Car titles with BMW, Alfa Romeo and Ford, and class wins at Le Mans with Aston Martin.

TID is a Kuwaiti investment company that employs 450 people and operates across a broad spectrum of business sectors including banking, finance, investment and asset management, real estate, insurance, manufacturing, logistics and consultancy. It estimates the projects and assets under its management at about $25 billion.

Mahmoud Samy from TID, who will join the board of Prodrive, said he was impressed by the commitment and dedication of everyone involved with Prodrive.

“Prodrive has a great heritage and David has a clear vision for growing the business,” said Mr Samy. “We look forward to working closely with David and his management team to realise their goals.”

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