UPDATE 1-Pirelli seeks Asian partnerships after investor shakeup

Fri Jun 7, 2013 11:57am EDT

* Chairman gives first strategy clues since Camfin reshuffle

* Indonesian motorcyle tyre venture could be a model (Adds chairman's quotes on new investors and former strategic partner)

By Jennifer Clark

VENICE, Italy, June 7 (Reuters) - Italian tyre maker Pirelli is looking for new industrial partnerships that will enable it to grow more quickly in Asia, Chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera said on Friday.

His comments offered the first insight into how he plans to build value for a new group of investors - two banks and a private equity fund - which joined him this week as shareholders in Camfin, the holding company that controls Pirelli.

Pirelli, the world's fifth biggest tyre maker, wants to continue to increase its revenue from more-profitable premium tyres, as well as upping its market share in high-growth regions like Asia. It reported sales of about 6 billion euros in 2012, of which the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 7 percent.

"We're looking at how we can grow the most quickly in Asia, for example at an industrial partnership along the lines of what we did in Indonesia," Tronchetti Provera said, referring to an agreement to make motorcycle tyres with a local partner, Astra Otoparts.

He said no talks were currently under way, and did not put any figure on his Asian growth target.

TURNING POINT

This week's deal marked a turning point after lengthy public wrangling between the chairman and Malacalza Investimenti, the two largest investors in Camfin, over how to repay debt at the holding company.

The new investors - Unicredit, Intesa Sanpaolo and Clessidra, along with Tronchetti as shareholder and manager - aim to boost Pirelli's market value from its current 4.5 billion euros ($5.95 billion).

"The two banks invested with a private equity company, on private equity terms, at a private equity price... in other words to create value," said Tronchetti Provera, who thanks to the deal succeeded in cementing his grip as Pirelli's controlling shareholder.

At the same time, he negotiated the exit of Malacalza Investimenti, his disgruntled former strategic partner, which had acquired a stake in Camfin in 2010 and fell out with Tronchetti last summer.

Malacalza Investimenti said on Wednesday it had acquired a 6.98 percent stake in Pirelli at a price of 7.8 euros per share, as part of the exit agreement from Camfin.

Asked if he would be able to work in Pirelli with the Malacalzas despite past disagreements, Tronchetti said he believed so. "I consider their decision to be a vote of confidence in our management," he said.

($1 = 0.7564 euros) (Editing by Francesca Landini and Mark Trevelyan)

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