Italian car designer gears up for revival

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ROME--Pininfarina, the car design house that created the Ferrari Testarossa and the Alfa Romeo convertible Dustin Hoffman drove in "The Graduate," is planning some major changes to keep itself from becoming an also ran in the Italian car business.

The company says it is on the lookout for an engineering company to help it boost revenue from the services side of the business. It has hired Rothschild Bank to help it with what the company calls "not a small acquisition" -- though a Pininfarina spokesman declines to elaborate.

Despite its reputation as a designer, Pininfarina earns most of its revenue by manufacturing low-volume stylistic versions of mainstream cars such as the Peugeot 406 Coupe and the soon-to-be released Alfa Romeo GTV on a subcontract basis for the larger companies. But profit margins and demand for those types of vehicles have been dropping for several years, forcing the company to consider the change.

Copyright October 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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