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Mahindra Said to Be Close to Purchasing Pininfarina

9 September 2015 - Automotive News

Mahindra Said to Be Close to Purchasing Pininfarina

Mahindra & Mahindra is close to an agreement to purchase Italian car designer Pininfarina, people familiar with the matter said.

After talks stalled months ago, the companies are now seeking to complete negotiations in the next few days, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Indian carmaker Mahindra and Pininfarina have yet to agree on the final purchase price as well as issues related to the designer's debt, the people said.

Representatives for Pininfarina and Mahindra didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reported today that the talks were in their final stages, prompting Pininfarina's shares to be halted after surging 11 percent.

Bloomberg first reported talks with Mahindra in March, but the deal was delayed after Pininfarina's creditor banks balked at an earlier proposal by Mahindra.

The takeover of Turin-based Pininfarina, the creator of the Ferrari 458 Spider roadster, marks a move by Mahindra to add flair following its acquisitions of South Korean carmaker Ssangyong and the scooter unit of PSA/Peugeot-Citroen.

The designer already cooperates with Mahindra on SUV development and worked with it on the TUV300 compact SUV, which the company introduce later this week.

Pininfarina has been unprofitable for 10 of the past 11 years while struggling with debt. It shut a floundering division that built cars for other manufacturers three years ago. Chairman Paolo Pininfarina, a grandson of the company's founder, said on April 22 that a new investor will provide "financial solidity and bolster growth in coming years."

The design firm, established in 1930, has also been involved with creating the Rolls-Royce Camargue, Cadillac Allante and Maserati Quattroporte as well as automotive classics such as the Ferrari 250 GT and Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider. It has also branched into projects outside the automotive industry, including apartment towers, vending machines and toothbrushes.

Pincar, the Pininfarina family's holding company, said when disclosing the talks with Mahindra in March that it was reviewing several options for the firm jointly with financial institutions. Pincar ceded control of its 76 percent Pininfarina stake to banks as a guarantee for debt restructuring in 2012. Those creditors also need to approve any sale.

Mahindra had 67.7 billion rupees ($1.02 billion) in cash and short-term investments as of the end of its fiscal year in March 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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