India’s Mahindra & Mahindra has engaged in purchase negotiations with luxury car designer Pininfarina for the acquisition of a majority stake, according to three persons that have knowledge of the proceeds.
This would be the latest move from an Asian company to bid for a iconic Italian brand, after recently the world’s fifth largest tire maker, Pirelli, announced it was being purchased by ChemChina (the China National Chemical Corp). The Milan-listed Pininfarina, a well known design studio that has styled Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and Cadillac cars over the years, had its shares jump 21 percent to 4.96 euros, the highest level in almost a year following the reports that India’s largest producer of sport utility vehicles was interested to assume majority control. The sources seemed to disagree though on how far the negotiations have advanced, with one claiming they were advanced and the other two saying the firms were far from any agreement.
Turin-based Pininfarina’s market capitalization had reached 123 million euros ($135 million) after the news broke out of the reported acquisition process. The company has been losing money for years, though, with a bank debt almost the same as its current valuation. The business was harder than usual in recent years, as automakers took more to their in-house designers and studios instead of independent design firms. In 2014, the group’s total net loss was 1.3 million euros even if it also designs buildings, interiors, furniture and electronics. Mahindra has been linked to Pininfarina as far back as 2013, when the Indian automaker was joined by Hubert Tassin, a former Pininfarina designer that stayed with the Italians for more than six years.