October 11, 2009 / 12:30 PM / 10 years ago

Pininfarina sale to emerging mkt suitor unlikely-paper

MILAN, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The Pininfarina (PNNI.MI) family is unlikely to sell a majority stake in the Italian car designer and niche manufacturer to an emerging market automaker, CEO Silvio Pietro Angori told Sunday’s Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper.

Pininfarina has hired Banca Leonardo to sell the 50.7 percent stake, held by Pincar the Pininfarina family company. The sale was foreseen as part of a debt agreement with banks at end-2008. [ID:nL719828]

“As manager, I find it difficult to imagine Pininfarina owned by an auto maker from the emerging markets,” Angori said.

“It is not up to me to decide but such a solution could be limiting for the company’s potential. I would look more towards sectors similar to the auto division, maybe one or more investors with a successful record in managing luxury brands.”

French financier Vincent Bollore, with whom Pininfarina has a joint venture, has said he had not been asked to take a stake.

“It would be good if the process closed in the next 12 months,” Angori said, adding it was hard to imagine the firm without a Pininfarina family representative in a primary role.

Pininfarina and Bollore are working on the Bluecar electric car, that will arrive on the market in 2011 and has received orders of more than 6,000, Angori said.

When asked about rumours of a possible break up with Bollore, he said the fact that France announced investments for developing electric cars and this was not the case in Italy could create “market assymetry” arousing “reason for thought”.

“I can imagine Bollore would ask himself what sense it makes to produce the car in Italy when you can make use of incentives in France. (Without doubt) his engagement to the iniative was recently reconfirmed.”

If certain terms are not respected, Bollore can dissolve an exclusive deal to use the electric battery, the paper said.

“The joint venture is to develop and produce the Bluecar, then each of us has their own strategy. Bollore is probably interested in supplying his battery to the world and we to design electric cars also for other makers,” Angori said.

“After all the effort to make the Bluecar ... maybe the exclusivity will no longer be indispensable.”

Il Sole said Bollore had a sort of veto right to take the capital of the venture if he does not approve the new investor. That would not impact the industrial plan, Angori said.

He said it was unlikely the production of the car be taken away from Pininfarina. “The contractual terms are very well articulated and independent of control of the joint venture.” (Editing by Simon Jessop)

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