Pirelli’s Boss in Talks With New Investors

The head of Pirelli is lining up new investors in order to keep his grip on the Italian tyremaker after falling out with stakeholder Malacalza Investimenti, which in turn is negotiating an exit.

(Reuters) – The head of Pirelli is lining up new investors in order to keep his grip on the Italian tyremaker after falling out with stakeholder Malacalza Investimenti, which in turn is negotiating an exit.

The announcement by Pirelli Chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera marks a turning point after lengthy public mudslinging between him and Malacalza, the two largest investors in Camfin , the vehicle that controls the Italian tyre maker.

Tronchetti controls the world’s No.5 tyre maker through stakes in a set of cascading holding companies, enabling him to hold sway over Pirelli with a very small equity investment.

Malacalza Investimenti, a vehicle owned by a Genoa-based family of steel trading moguls, bought 12.1 percent of Camfin in 2009 as an industrial investment. But the family fell out with Tronchetti last year over how to repay Camfin’s hefty debt.

Private equity fund Clessidra and banks UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo are in talks with Tronchetti to make an investment in Camfin that will lead to a “restructuring of the group’s control structure,” Tronchetti’s main holding company MTP said in a statement on Tuesday.

Their investment would follow any conclusion of the strategic partnership between Tronchetti and Malacalza Investimenti, the statement said, adding further details would follow.

Shares in Pirelli fell 1.4 percent to 8.82 euros, since the market was hoping for specific financial details of the investment, according to an analyst who asked not to be named. Camfin shares however were up 1.9 percent at 0.87 euros.

The market has been wagering for several months that Tronchetti and a set of financial backers would launch a bid for Camfin, which has a market value of about 670 million euros ($872.98 million).

The divorce with Malacalza Investimenti will enable the Pirelli chairman to focus all his energies on further improving the group’s industrial performance. Like other companies, Pirelli is struggling with shrinking revenues in Europe because of a long and bitter recession. ($1 = 0.7675 euros)