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Pininfarina rescued by India’s Mahindra

Design icon: Ferrari's F12 Berlinetta is a recent example of Pininfarina's design work with the Prancing Horse brand.

Mahindra steps in to buy Italian design house Pininfarina and save it from ruin

Mahindra logo15 Dec 2015

INDIAN giant Mahindra & Mahindra has taken control of ailing Italian design house and coach-builder, Pininfarina, in a deal reportedly worth €168 million ($A255m).

Founded by Italian designer Battista “Pinin” Farina in 1930, the iconic 85-year-old company – responsible for penning legendary cars such as the Ferrari Dino and Ferrari F40 – slipped into Indian control after recording a profit just once in the past 11 years.

Pininfarina SpA is the second major European automotive company to fall under Indian control, with Britain’s Jaguar Land Rover bought from Ford by Mahindra rival Tata Motors in 2008.

The Pininfarina purchase agreement states that Mahindra subsidiary Tech Mahindra Limited – an IT, networks and engineering solutions provider – and parent company Mahindra & Mahindra will buy 76.06 per cent of Pinifarina shares from the controlling shareholder, Pincar, at €1.1 ($A1.67) a share.

The two arms of the Indian company will make the purchase via a joint-venture company, with ownership split 60 per cent to Tech Mahindra and 40 per cent to M&M, while at the same time making an open offer for all remaining shares at the same purchase price, according to the company.

“Pininfarina's legendary brand status will allow Tech Mahindra powerful access to relationships the iconic designer has nurtured with the best in the world over its 85-year history, including with Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Peugeot,” Mahindra said in a statement.

“This will mean an opportunity for Tech Mahindra to influence product conceptualisation and design and styling through Europe's best-in-class design house.” The company said the take-over will allow Mahindra to expand in key markets, including the United States, China and Europe.

“This acquisition will give Tech Mahindra a critical foothold in key, early-stage conversations in the automotive and other verticals,” it said.

“Tech Mahindra will also benefit from the designer's focused presence in Italy and Germany, the hotbeds of European automotive manufacturing, as well as in the US and an emerging automotive market, China.”

Pininfarina will be able to leverage Tech Mahindra's presence in 90 markets and access to about 780 customers.

American publication Automotive News reporsts that Mahindra will invest €20 million ($A30.3) in the design house and provide a guarantee to creditors of €114.5 million ($A173.7).

Pininfarina chairman Paolo Pininfarina said the new ownership would allow the design house to explore new business opportunities.

“In a globalised world, entrepreneurship and capital do not need a passport,” he said. “We are joining hands with a $3.9 billion technology and global partner, and part of the $16.9 billion global Mahindra Group, which will not only strengthen our Italian identity but will open more doors.

“Tech Mahindra's global presence and global delivery model will allow us to compete for a larger (slice of the) pie of the business.”

The take-over of Pininfarina follows a number of international acquisitions by Mahindra, including South Korean car-maker SsangYong in 2011 and PSA Peugeot-Citroen motorcycles.

Until late 2011, Pininfarina built cars at plants in Italy and Sweden plant, specialising in convertibles including the Alfa Romeo Spider, Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet, Peugeot 306 Cabriolet, Volvo C70 drop-top and the Mitsubishi Colt.

The company was founded in 1930 and designed cars for a number of manufacturers, notably Ferrari, penning iconic models including the Dino, 308, F50, Enzo, California, 458 Italia, FF and F12 Berlinetta.

Other famous designs include the Jaguar XJ6, Maserati Quattroporte and Gran Turismo, Alfa Romeo 164, MG F and the Honda Beat.

The company was also responsible for some less celebrated cars, such as the Daewoo Tacuma, Nissan Cedric and Hyundai Lavita, as well as little known Chinese-market cars including the Hafei Zhongyi van and Hafei Lobo city car.

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