Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., India’s largest maker of sport-utility vehicles, is in talks to buy Italian auto design and engineering company Pininfarina SpA, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mahindra is closing in on the purchase of the company that designed the Ferrari Testarossa after weeks of talks, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Negotiations are continuing and could still fall apart, the people said. Pininfarina’s shares surged 26 percent Wednesday, the biggest gain in almost four years, lifting the company’s value to 155 million euros ($170 million).
Pininfarina was founded in 1930 and has designed automotive classics like the Ferrari 250 GT and Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider from the 1950s. The Turin-based company has posted losses in 10 of the past 11 years as it struggled with debt and a floundering business to manufacture cars for other companies. It would be the latest in a series of Italian companies to fall into foreign hands as the country struggles to emerge from a cycle of recessions.
Pininfarina cooperates with Mumbai-based Mahindra on SUV development and worked with the Indian company on the Halo electric sports-car concept presented at the Delhi auto show last year. A spokesman for Pininfarina said Mahindra is a client and the two companies have a very good relationship. He declined to comment on takeover talks. A representative for Mahindra said the company doesn’t comment on speculation.
The Italian company’s shares jumped the most since July 2011 to close at 5.15 euros in Milan trading. Mahindra stock gained 1.5 percent.
Pininfarina could help the Indian manufacturer add flair to its namesake brand and its Ssangyong unit. Pininfarina has designed cars like the Rolls-Royce Camargue, Cadillac Allante and Maserati Quattroporte. It stopped large-scale production for its automaker clients and closed its factories three years ago. The company has branched out to design projects aside from autos, including residential apartment towers, vending machines and toothbrushes.
Mahindra, which last year agreed to buy Peugeot Motocycles SA and in 2011 completed the purchase of Ssangyong Motor Co., had 82.6 billion rupees ($1.3 billion) in cash and short-term investments as of March 31, 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.