British Buy Back Bond

My iTunes library is an eclectic mix of music and movies that might make traditionalists wonder. For instance, I'm equally happy with either Enimem's Lose Yourself or Foreigner's Urgent. This morning, however, my music of choice is the James Bond theme, expertly performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Blame Ford (NYSE: F  ) . Earlier today, British newspaper The Guardian reported that the ailing carmaker sold its Aston Martin division to a group of U.K. investors for 479 million pounds -- or roughly $924 million (at current exchange rates).

For me, the deal is a homecoming of sorts. Much as I like Ford and its trucks, Aston Martin has been a uniquely British brand since Sean Connery drove the Alps in a vintage DB5 in 1964's Goldfinger. (A souped-up version of the DB9, known as the DBS, appeared alongside Daniel Craig in last year's Casino Royale.)

Expect British racer Dave Richards, who led the team of acquiring investors, to keep it that way. As he told The Guardian, "The car industry and the car business requires long-term investment. You cannot come in and out in a few years." Ford, which acquired Aston Martin in 1994, is out after a dozen years.

And the timing probably couldn't be better. Ford's U.S. sales slipped more than 13% in February, highlighted by an 8.4% decline in domestic truck sales. That's hardly encouraging, especially when competition from General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) , Daimler Chrysler (NYSE: DCX  ) , and Toyota (NYSE: TM  ) remains intense.

Meanwhile, Ford's so-called "Way Forward" is estimated to result in $11.2 billion in restructuring costs, $9.9 billion of which were accrued as of the fourth quarter of 2006. Adding nearly a billion in cash for Aston Martin ought to ease the pain of further cost-cutting -- in addition to satisfying Bond fans like me.

So, good move, Ford. And James? Welcome home.

Get into gear with related Foolishness:

Fool contributor Tim Beyers says Goldfinger is still his favorite Bond film. Live and Let Die earns a close second. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy prefers a gin and tonic mixed with Bombay Sapphire to a vodka martini.


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