Kuwait-backed Aston Martin races to add female board member

Maker of sports cars for James Bond, Aston Martin, is racing to add a woman to its board ahead of a London IPO
Kuwait-backed Aston Martin races to add female board member
(Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
By Bloomberg
Wed 05 Sep 2018 01:52 PM

Kuwait-backed Aston Martin, maker of sports cars for James Bond, is racing to add a woman to its board ahead of a London IPO.

The nine directors are currently all men. Aston Martin Holdings may name women to its board at the same time that it publishes an initial public offering prospectus in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

If it doesn’t, the luxury carmaker would become one of about 10 companies within the UK’s benchmark FTSE 350 equities gauge to have an all-male boardroom at a time when the government is urging businesses to ensure 33 percent of their directors are female by 2020.

A dearth of women on the board isn’t the only hurdle facing Aston Martin: the 105-year-old company is looking for ways to make its lineup more appealing to both females and younger buyers.

2015’s DBX crossover vehicle, aimed in part at a 30-something woman, was meant to widen its appeal after the maker of the iconic British sports cars found that only 3,500 vehicles - or 5 percent of the cars produced in its history at that time - had been bought by women.

That same year, Aston Martin also brought on Laura Schwab as president of its Americas business, though she isn’t senior enough to rate a spot on the web-page profiling the 12 top executives - all men.

The board of the carmaker, said to be targeting a valuation of about 5 billion pounds ($6.4 billion), is at the moment mainly composed of representatives for its biggest shareholders, including Kuwait’s Investment Dar and Investindustrial Advisors.

In recent years, Aston Martin and other automakers have shifted from advertising vehicles with women perched on the hoods to those with female drivers as they seek to win over new kinds of customers.

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