ChemChina chairman says hopes to re-list Pirelli in Italy

Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:44am EDT
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By Chen Aizhu and Matthew Miller

BEIJING (Reuters) - The chairman of China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) said on Sunday he hopes to re-list Italy's Pirelli PECI.MI on the Italian stock exchange after his firm agreed earlier this month to acquire the world's fifth-largest tire maker.

Ren Jianxin also warned that a counterbid for Pirelli would hurt the Italian firm's investors and long-term strategy. ChemChina has agreed to become majority owner of Pirelli as part of a multi-layered 7.3 billion euro ($8 billion) deal, putting one of Italy's storied manufacturing names in Chinese hands.

"We were worried that due to cheap liquidity, there might be blind competition," Ren told reporters. "But a counterbid will hurt Pirelli investors and also its long-term strategy."

On Thursday, Pirelli CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera told Reuters his firm is not talking to others about a possible counterbid.

Ren is betting the Pirelli acquisition will accelerate the transformation of state-owned ChemChina's tire and rubber business. The deal will give the Beijing-based conglomerate access to technology to make premium tyres which can be sold at higher margins, and give the Italian firm a boost in China, the world's biggest autos market.

Pirelli's industrial tire operations will be merged with ChemChina's Aeolus Tyre Co (600469.SS: Quote) unit, making the combined firm the world's fourth or fifth biggest industrial tire maker, Ren said.

The deal also will allow the combined firm to expand its presence in China and Asia. Ren characterized the acquisition as "revolutionary" for his company's rubber and tire business.

He described his partnership with Tronchetti as a "very beautiful marriage" and said the Italian will be CEO for the next five years, after which Tronchetti would pick his successor. In Thursday's interview, Tronchetti said he may stand down as CEO before five years if the right successor could be found. He also said Pirelli may be re-listed within four years, though not necessarily in Milan.   Continued...

A woman checks her phone at the headquarters of China National Chemical Corporation in Beijing, July 20, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer