The news of the Ferretti Group’s decision to also be listed on Piazza Affari, after Hong Kong, can be read with different lenses. There is the immediate one, declared by the company, of “expanding the composition of the shareholder base and increasing the trading volume of shares, with the aim of improving the liquidity and profile of the company’s shares in the global market”. And then, there are further possible reflections. Which open up to new scenarios.
Let’s start with a given. Ferretti International Holding Spa, which currently holds approximately 63.75% of the share capital, has obtained the necessary authorizations to sell up to 28.75% of the shares. We are talking about the majority shareholder, Shandong Heavy Industry Group-Wichai Power, a multinational controlled by the Chinese state. This means that with the listing its share will decrease, which will remain around 35%. It means that Weichai will become a minority shareholder, supported by Piero Ferrari, the Drake’s son, at about 8.3%.
Let’s stop for a moment. Why does Weichai put part of its share on the market? Let’s talk about its president, Tan Xuguang. A mechanical engineer, he is nicknamed Tan “Dan Dan”, which means “with a large pancreas”, which in Mandarin means man with liver. He began working in the factory in 1977, when he was 16, as a factory worker and became a public manager. He is a delegate of the National People’s Congress, China’s version of Parliament.
Why talk about him? Because Weichai being controlled by the state, and its president an influential member of the CCP, obviously follows the lines set by the Beijing government. And the intention to decrease the investment in Ferretti could be a sign of a more general phenomenon. According to some analysts, in fact, it could also be the signal of the beginning of a process of disinvestment by Beijing from foreign companies whose sectors do not fall within the lines of the five-year plan launched by President Xi Jinping to achieve technological independence and leadership in the digital economy to China.
Once the transaction is completed, Weuichai’s stake could settle at around 35%, and it will become a minority shareholder. It could stop there, but by venturing into the fantasy economy, it could further shrink its stock portfolio. But let’s stay in reality. With the listing and the consequent sale of 28.7% of the shares, there would be a substantial portion of the floating capital. And here another scenario opens up.
The sale of the Chinese shares could in fact make a major Italian nautical company for the first time (since the shareholders of Ferretti have never signed a shareholders’ agreement) totally contestable. It means that if someone – always hypothetically, absurdly even competitors such as Azimut/Benetti’s Vitelli or Sanlorenzo’s Perotti – were to attack the shares on the market, they could reach such a stake that they could even vote for the board of directors.