India’s Mahindra could buy Pininfarina to embellish its SUVs

Mahindra & Mahindra, a large Indian automaker that specializes in building SUVs, vans and pickup trucks, could purchase storied Italian design house Pininfarina for an undisclosed amount of money. Interestingly, Mahindra denied to comment on the reports but Pininfarina eagerly confirmed that the negotiations have been going on for several weeks.

On paper, the deal would be a win-win situation for both parties. Once one of the most respected names in the global auto industry, Pininfarina shut down its car-building arm a few years ago and it has been in dire financial straits ever since. Rumors indicate that Pininfarina’s bank debts are almost as high as its market value, which is approximately €140 million (roughly $151.5 million).

Mahindra has been trying to expand into new markets for the past few years. Buying Pininfarina – a company that it already works with on a regular basis – would help it give its design language a much-needed overhaul and offer more attractive models. South Korea’s SsangYong Motor Company, which has been owned by Mahindra since 2010, would more than likely benefit from the Italian firm’s talent as well.

The deal could also spawn the very first Pininfarina-designed Saab. Mahindra has been in talks with National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS), the owner of Saab, for the past couple of months and it could buy a controlling stake in the moribund Swedish automaker in the not-too-distant future.

What remains to be seen is what Mahindra would do with Pininfarina. The company could continue to operate like it does today and design cars for various clients including Maserati, BMW, Rolls-Royce and Ferrari, or it could essentially replace Mahindra’s design studio altogether.

Neither party has revealed exactly how far along the negotiations are or when they are scheduled to end. However, an anonymous source close to Mahindra warned that Pininfarina is not a “must-have” for the automaker, hinting that the purchase will only take place if the price is right.