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Business

Ferrari debuts on Milan stock exchange

Ferrari debuted on the Milan stock exchange, with the stock dropping slightly compared to its opening value. But strong sales and net profit figures for recent quarters suggest the sports-car maker remains in good shape.

Ferrari, the Italian maker of luxury status-symbol sports cars, debuted on the Milan stock exchange on Monday, three months after the initial public offering (IPO) of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The shares fell 3.5 percent from their Monday opening value of 43 euros ($46.72), down to 41.50 euros per share, before recovering to slightly above their opening value in the course of trading.

Eight Ferrari racing-cars were parked in front of the Milan stock exchange for the opening. Ferrari is the only race-car maker that has continuously participated in Formula 1 racing since the beginning.

"Globalization is our best chance," said Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the Milan stock exchange debut. His presence at the ceremony was a signal of the continuing power of the Ferrari brand and the glamorous image of its cherry-red cars.

Stability amid change

On Friday afternoon, the shares had closed at $48 on the NYSE, about 43.95 euros.

The flat price on the stock's opening day in Milan contrasted with its exuberant start after the IPO in New York three months ago, where shares rose as high as 53 euros on the first day of trading - 15 percent above their opening value.

Ferrari was until recently a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler, which decided in 2014 to spin out the sports-car maker by making it a separate company. It has now completed the process.

This past autumn, Fiat Chrysler sold about 10 percent of Ferrari shares to investors through Ferrari's NYSE debut, and it has now distributed another 80 percent to investors through the Milan listing.

Ten percent of Ferrari's shares - and 15.8 percent of voting rights - remained in the ownership of Piero Ferrari, son of Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the carmaking company. The heirs of Fiat's founder, the Agnelli-Elkann clan, bought 23.5 percent of Ferrari's shares and secured 33.4 percent of voting rights. Together, the Ferrari and Agnelli-Elkann families own nearly 49 percent of voting rights, with which they aim to maintain the "stability" of the Ferrari brand.

Sales of the sports cars remained robust, with revenues up by 9 percent in the third quarter and net profits up 62 percent. Ferrari sold about 7,000 new cars in 2015 and plans to increase production to 9,000 by 2019, the company has said.

Fiat's valuation

The spin-out of Ferrari from Fiat Chrysler caused a one-third drop in Fiat Chrysler's share price, to 8.54 euros per share on Monday. This doesn't mean Fiat Chrysler took a hit, however: Now that the previous parent company no longer owns Ferrari, it is appropriately worth a lower amount.

Despite the split in ownership, Fiat Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne will remain head of Ferrari as well. The Italian-Canadian executive has been pursuing a major restructuring plan for Fiat Chrysler, with a key goal of seeking a fusion with a larger carmaker now that Ferrari has been spun out. He has argued strongly in favor of fusing Fiat Chrysler with General Motors (GM), but

GM's management has so far spurned his entreaties.

nz/hg (AFP, Reuters)

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