But just how shocking is it really?
The world’s least influential motoring blog we may be, but that doesn’t prevent Driven To Write being ahead of the curve every once in a while. Back in May, we took a detailed look at Sergio Marchionne’s plan for FCA’s turnaround, offering a hypothesis regarding its likely success – or otherwise.
Amongst our ruminations was the possible sale of Ferrari. Impossible, we reasoned, the Italians and global Tifosi simply wouldn’t stand for it. More likely, we predicted, was some form of IPO, where a portion of Ferrari’s ownership would be transferred for large brown paper bags of cash, while nominally at least, remaining in Italian hands. In this, DTW remained a lone voice in a wilderness very much of its own creation.
So, seeing this week that FCA is reportedly selling a good 10% of Ferrari stock and redistributing the remainder not in Piero Lardi Ferrari’s hands, appears on the surface at least, to vindicate our stance. Of course, the amount raised will prove a fraction of what Sergio needs to raise in order to finance his 48 billion Euro investment in the FCA business, but more to the point, it demonstrates just how much the automotive firmament’s most illustrious jumper-owner is prepared to sacrifice.
What we don’t as yet know is the detail. What safeguards will be put in place to prevent a person or corporation from buying a controlling interest? Where will this leave Ferrari’s role in motorsport? Will Maserati follow in due course? What is pretty certain is that further Ferrari stock will ultimately find its way into other hands and it will become increasingly difficult for Agnelli heir, John Elkann to control its destiny. Furthermore, once it is listed on the New York stock exchange, it will (as Luca di Montezemolo predicted last month), become essentially a US company.
The most surprising aspect of this story is the muted response from the world’s motoring media, because this threatens to change everything. It proves beyond doubt that Marchionne has no sacred cows and is prepared to do anything to ensure the success of his plan. What rabbit could he possibly pull from his jumper next? Stay tuned – it’s likely to get a good deal messier.
Read Automotive News’ piece on the Ferrari IPO here
One thought on “Trading the Bloodstock – Ferrari’s Shock Sell-Off”
Assuming that FCA can only ever earn so much money from Ferrari’s profits, maybe it makes sense to just sell it off whilst it’s still credible. In Marchionne’s favour (well someone has to), since he isn’t a ‘car guy’, he wears no blinkers when it comes to the Prancing Horse. They may still sell now, but will they in ten or fifteen years time when the feeding frenzy for Western totems in what have been lucrative new markets has abated and when, in Europe certainly, the enforcement of legislation has become so efficient that a Ferrari’s performance has become totally impossible to savour?
Against that there’s the suspicion of someone plugging leaking holes with short-term ploys, but with no idea how they are going to deal with things when all those avenues have been exploited. The idea of a resurrected Alfa becomes more and more like the hospital drama where the dedicated doctor tries doggedly to resuscitate a patient until a caring colleague puts a hand on his shoulder and says gently “Leave it Sergio, we’ve lost her”. And there are only so many Fiat 500 variants the market will take.