TURIN – Coachbuilder Carrozzeria Bertone SpA and its associated design house Stile Bertone SpA will have to look elsewhere for a savior.
Domenico Reviglio, the investor who signed an agreement to purchase a controlling stake in the financially beleaguered firms just three days ago, has decided to call off the deal after legal battles over the operations began to ratchet up.
Among the sticking points is a clause in the pending contract that would have allowed Lilli Bertone, who would own a 35% stake in the newly acquired companies, to form separate competitive companies called Bertone Automobile Torino and By Air Technology.
A Turin court stopped the sale, ruling the transaction would constitute fraud against Lilli Bertone’s partners in the current Bertone companies, namely her daughters and the Gracco De Lay family, who together control 65% of Bertone SpA. The court ruled Lilli Bertone only had the rights to sell 20% of the companies, not the 65% proposed in the sale contract.
Company management likely will be entrusted to a commissioner appointed by the court.
Some 1,300 workers are on standby at Carrozzeria Bertone while its future is being sorted out. It remains unclear whether the company, with an estimated E50 million ($74 million) in assets and contracts, will be forced to declare bankruptcy due to the squabbling among its key shareholders.
Work is continuing at Stile Bertone, however. It will present a futuristic dream car at the upcoming Geneva auto show in March. The 2-seat coupe will be a design study only, not a drivable concept, insiders say.