updated 10/20/2006 12:02:16 PM ET 2006-10-20T16:02:16

Billionaires Bernard Arnault and Albert Frere are considering a bid for Aston Martin, the luxury automaker that Ford has put up for sale, the Financial Times reported Friday.

The two announced this week that they would form an investment fund of up to 1 billion euros ($1.25 billion) and that they are “looking at Aston Martin,” the Financial Times quoted a person “close to the pair” as saying.

Aston Martin makes about 5,000 cars a year, which cost upward of $100,000 each. The company has its headquarters, research and production facilities in Gaydon, England.

Ford Motor Co. bought a controlling stake in Aston Martin in 1987 and acquired full ownership in 1994. But Ford recently announced that it was prepared to sell out as part of a broader restructuring of the struggling company.

Arnault’s own fund, Groupe Arnault, and Frere’s Compagnie Nationale a Portefeuille, said they planned to invest mainly in European companies.

Frere’s Compagnie Nationale a Portefeuille said it had no comment on the report. Groupe Arnault did not return a call for comment.

Arnault is chairman, chief executive and controlling shareholder of luxury goods retailer LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA; its brands include Louis Vuitton and Fendi.

Frere is chairman of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, a Belgian investment company.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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