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Mahindra acquires an Italian design touch

Indian automobile major Mahindra & Mahindra has decided to go ahead and acquire a controlling stake in Italian car design house Pininfarina. On Tuesday, M&M, together with its IT outsourcing arm Tech Mahindra, said it would buy the floundering Turin-based company for 1.1 euros per share. This, analysts said, was a steal, as Pininfarina's stock had closed on Friday at 4.20 euros, which itself is a loss of almost 95 per cent over the share price at the start of 2007. A Mahindra official, however, told Reuters that Friday's closing price was not a reflection of the company's value. "Pininfarina shareholders are well aware there is no value in the business: when the Italian banks close the taps and your clients walk away, you're no longer in business," he said. The total value of the deal will be a rather expensive 168 million euros ($185 million) and underscores Mahindra's international ambitions. The two Mahindra group companies will buy 76 per cent stake from the Pincar holding company for 25.3 million euros and offer the same price for the remaining stock, the company said. In addition, Mahindra will invest 20 million euros in Pininfarina and provide a guarantee to creditors of 114.5 million euros. Pininfarina will remain an independent company listed on the Milan stock market. Paolo Pininfarina, a grandson of the company founder, will stay as chairman. "You have to bear in mind that under this deal the company will be recapitalised with better growth opportunities," Pininfarina CEO Silvio Angori said on Tuesday. For Mahindra, the credentials of Pininfarina will boost its design capabilities and allow it to chase a bigger market pie. "The legendary high-end design credentials of Pininfarina will significantly enhance the design capabilities of the entire Mahindra group," chairman Anand Mahindra said in a statement. "Given the increasing design sensibilities of today's consumers, product design will greatly influence customer choice." Pininfarina is not the first Italian iconic brand to be snapped up by emerging market players eager to grow their footprints. Luxury yacht maker Ferretti was bought in 2012 by China's Weichai Group after it got weighed down by debt.