A Maserati Birdcage 75th concept car designed by Pininfarina. File picture: Reuters.
A Maserati Birdcage 75th concept car designed by Pininfarina. File picture: Reuters.
Italian engineer and designer Paolo Pininfarina (2nd left) poses with Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani (2nd right), Pininfarina CEO Silvio Angori (left) and CFO Gianfranco Albertini (right) in downtown Turin. Picture: Giorgio Perottino / Reuters.
Italian engineer and designer Paolo Pininfarina (2nd left) poses with Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani (2nd right), Pininfarina CEO Silvio Angori (left) and CFO Gianfranco Albertini (right) in downtown Turin. Picture: Giorgio Perottino / Reuters.

Rome - Is Mahindra's not-exactly-stunning SUV range about to receive a stylistic boost from car heaven? Certainly seems so.

One of the biggest names in Italian car design, Pininfarina, is set to end up in Indian hands following a deal with the Mahindra Group that valued the prestigious, but now insolvent, company at about 33 million euros (R544m).

Founded in 1930, Turin-based Pininfarina designed several well-known cars, including the 1960s Alfa Romeo Spider and the Ferrari Testarossa in the 1980s, and even produced models for Ford, Peugeot, Volvo and others, but its business has dried up in the past decade.

A company statement said Mahindra agreed to buy a 76-percent controlling stake from Pincar, a Pininfarina family holding company now controlled by a consortium of Italian banks, for 1.1 euros per share, or about 25.2 million euro (R416m) in total.

The Mumbai-based conglomerate is expected to shell out a further 8 million euro (R132m) to buy at the same price the remaining Pininfarina stake held by other investors, and has agreed, through subsidiary Tech Mahindra, to invest a further 20 million euro (R330m) in the company's relaunch.

“Pininfarina will add enormous value to Tech Mahindra's portfolio of engineering services,” Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said.

“But just as important is the fact that the legendary high-end design credentials of Pininfarina will significantly enhance the design capabilities of the entire Mahindra Group,” he added.

The deal, which also saw Italian banks agree to restructure Pininfarina's debts and Mahindra's commitment to retain Paolo Pininfarina, grandson of company founder Battista, as chairman, should be closed in the first quarter of next year.

DPA