Last fall, longstanding Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, arguably the most influential person to have worked at the Prancing Horse after founder Enzo Ferrari, stepped down from the head role, passing the baton on to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] CEO Sergio Marchionne. Just weeks before his resignation, di Montezemolo said he saw himself working for Ferrari for at least three more years, so his departure, which came as a surprise to many, was clearly not completely amicable.
One of the main reasons, it turns out, was FCA’s plans to spin off Ferrari, plans that weren’t revealed at the time of di Montezemolo’s resignation though hinted at in his farewell speech: “Ferrari will have an important role to play within the FCA Group in the upcoming flotation on Wall Street.”
The former Ferrari chairman has since voiced some of his concerns over FCA’s moves to take Ferrari public in a speech made during his induction late last month to the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit. Those concerns center on public companies’ tendencies to put profits and share price targets ahead of products and customer satisfaction.
“I hope that the clients will remain more important than the analyst or the investor or the financial markets,” di Montezemolo said in his speech. The Detroit Free Press reports that di Montezemolo went on to explain that Ferrari’s success was built on its attention to its people, products and clients.
He also mentioned another concern—and that’s ensuring the exclusivity of the brand, something he strived for during his tenure. For example, it was di Montezemolo that decided to limit sales of the brand to around 7,000 cars per year. While promising to retain exclusivity, Ferrari’s current management has also said it plans to add dealerships and expand its licensing agreements, and Marchionne has hinted at higher volumes in the past.
Before you become too concerned about the possible dilution of Ferrari, recall that only 10 percent of its shares will be sold to the public. Most will wind up being distributed to the the Agnelli family-controlled Exor investment firm, which already controls much of Ferrari though its major stake in FCA, while Enzo Ferrari's sole-surviving son Piero will retain his 10 percent stake in the company. Ferrari’s shares will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, most likely by the end of this year.