Greyzer

  • 10:36:00 pm on August 7, 2008 | 0

    Andrea Pininfarina, the chief executive of Pininfarina SpA, a designer of sports cars including Ferrari Testarossas and Fiat SpA‘s Alfa Spider, was killed today when his motor scooter collided with a Ford. He was 51.

    Pininfarina died instantly after his Vespa hit the Ford Fiesta at about 8:15 a.m. in Trofarello near the northern city of Turin, Italy, said police official Luigi Semenzato. A company spokeswoman declined to give more details.

    The auto-design company, founded in 1930 by Andrea’s grandfather Battista “Pinin” Farina, has developed cars for Fiat unit Ferrari SpA for more than 50 years. It’s currently working on five vehicles, including Ford Motor Co.’s Focus Coupe Cabriolet and Fiat’s Alfa Brera. The company, based in Turin, posted losses in the past four years as production costs exceeded orders from clients.

    Pininfarina was leading the company’s attempt to restructure and restore profit. As part of their turnaround strategy, Pininfarina is planning to sell 100 million euros ($155 million) of new shares to existing investors, French billionaire Vincent Bollore and India’s Tata Motors Ltd.

    “The market now is speculating about a potential sale of the company,” said Luca Sega, who helps manage 300 million euros ($464 million) at Aperta Sgr in Milan.

    The shares rallied 21 percent to 7.25 euros in Milan trading today and were repeatedly suspended for excessive gains. Pininfarina has lost 69 percent in the past 12 months, leaving the company with a market value of 68 million euros. That compares with a 27 percent decline of Italy’s S&P/MIB stock index.

    Turnaround Strategy

    The Italian car designer’s loss widened to 114.9 million euros in 2007 from 21.9 million euros a year earlier, after writedowns of 69.6 million euros. The company, 55 percent owned by the Pininfarina family, in December announced an electric-car joint venture with France’s Groupe Bollore and is seeking to boost its engineering business to restore earnings.

    “I’m quite confident his company will overcome this terrible shock,” Bollore said in an e-mailed statement. He called Pininfarina “an outstanding entrepreneur and always on the cutting edge.” Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, chairman of Fiat and Ferrari, said the businessman was a “symbol” of entrepreneurship.

    Pininfarina was one of the two sons of Sergio Pininfarina, who is honorary chairman of the company and an Italian senator for life. Andrea’s younger brother Paolo is Pininfarina’s vice chairman and his sister Lorenza sits on the board.

    `Personality’

    Italy’s president in 1961 approved a request by their grandfather Battista, nicknamed “Pinin,” to change the family’s surname to Pininfarina.

    “I’m deeply saddened,” Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in an e-mailed statement. Italy “loses a leading personality of the country’s industrial life and the representative of a dynasty that did so much for the made-in- Italy brand around the world.”

    Pininfarina was appointed CEO in 2001 and was a member of the board of Italy’s biggest employers lobby, Confindustria.

    He’s survived by his wife Cristina Pellion di Persano and three children. He also was a board member at Finmeccanica SpA‘s Alenia Aeoronautica SpA unit and furniture-maker Poltrona Frau SpA.

     

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