Piaggio attracts royal interest

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The crown prince of Abu Dhabi is among potential investors interested in acquiring a stake of around 30% in Piaggio Aero Industries currently held largely by the Ferrari automotive family and the Italian government.

The Italian weekly financial newspaper Il Mondo reported last week that a holding of around 20% owned by Italian state investment agency Sviluppo Italia and shares held by Piero Ferrari, accounting for around 30% of the company, are to be sold to Mubadala Development, a wholly owned investment vehicle of the Abu Dhabi government. Its chief executive, crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, took a 5% stake in Ferrari last year and also owns 100% of Horizon International Flight Academy. Piaggio says the claim “is purely speculative” and “doesn’t comment on rumours”, but industry sources say bin Zayed is “extremely interested” in acquiring a stake.

Piaggio Aero is supplying the low-pressure turbine case and the bearing compartment housings to Pratt & Whitney for the F135 engine, powering the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and any Gulf state investment could be investigated by US authorities.

PINO MODOLA / GENOA

Additional reporting by JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON