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More F1 teams to float?

NEWS STORY
23/01/2011

Friday's announcement that Williams is considering a stock market flotation came as a shock to F1 fans. However, it seems that even insiders may have also been surprised as the UK's Daily Telegraph reports that the team discussed its plans on Friday in a "hastily arranged phone conference." Whilst everyone but Bernie Ecclestone surely found it hard to see this one coming, the financial plans of another team look a little bit clearer.

For around a decade Fiat has harboured plans of floating its luxury car brand Ferrari. Back in 2004 Piero Ferrari, the love-child of Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, told Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt that "Ferrari is maybe going to float in one year's time or more." Well, Piero, who owns 10% of Ferrari's shares, was right because it has certainly been more than one year and Ferrari still isn't publicly traded. That may be about to change.

In November last year Fiat paid €122m to buy back a 4% stake in Ferrari from Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Mubadala. This gave Fiat a total of 90% of the shares in Ferrari and it sparked rumours that the acquisition was a precursor to a flotation. It would be well-timed since Ferrari's finances are in top gear.

Earlier this month Ferrari announced that revenues for the quarter ended 30 September 2010 increased 12.6% year-on-year to €446m. Dealers took 3.9% more cars with a total of 1,398 delivered during the quarter. Ferrari's trading profit accelerated 46% to €76m with the company claiming that this was down to both the increased sales and cost cuts in all areas of the company including the F1 team.

Ferrari's F1 team is directly run by the car manufacturer itself and not through a separate company as is the case with Mercedes. Accordingly, if Ferrari floats then the F1 team would be part of the package. Dashing hopes of this happening Ferrari's chief executive Amedeo Felisa said on 14 January that Fiat has "no real plans" to list the luxury marque. He added that this decision came straight from Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne.

However this hasn't put an end to the flotation speculation and one of Sylt's senior financial sources says that industry chatter is pointing to an announcement being made one way or the other about the plans for Ferrari when Fiat reveals its full year 2010 results on Thursday, the day before the company launches its 2011 F1 challenger.

Will Piero Ferrari's comments finally be proven accurate?

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