updated 3/9/2007 11:35:54 AM ET 2007-03-09T16:35:54

Ford Motor Co. is close to selling its luxury Aston Martin brand to a group of private investors for about 450 million pounds ($870 million), the Financial Times newspaper reported Friday.

The group includes David Richards, a founder of Prodrive, the group that runs the Aston Martin racing team, the newspaper said.

Ford spokesman Tom Hoyt said there has been a lot of interest in Aston Martin since Ford announced last August that it would be interested in a full or partial sale.

"The process is ongoing, therefore it would be inappropriate to comment," he said.

The Financial Times report said Richards' consortium may have held talks with investors from the U.S. and Middle East about raising money for the bid.

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 bought a controlling stake in Aston Martin in 1987 and acquired full ownership in 1994.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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