Just like the life story of Enzo Ferrari, the ownership history of this sports /racing car manufacturer is truly worthy of a movie.
The story of Ferrari started under the wing of Alfa Romeo. Enzo led a racing division of Alfa Romeo, called Scuderia Ferrari. This was the spark that led Enzo to develop a dream about creating his own road cars. His dream however did not start until the end of the Second World War. Here is the overview of the biggest ownership changes from 1947 to 2021.
The Sole Enzo Ownership Years (1947-1969)
In 1947, Enzo found himself in possession of the land suitable for his first car factory. He immediately launched a company simply called “Ferrari”. He was the sole owner of the company from 1947 to 1969. At this time, Enzo created some of the most gorgeous looking vehicles like the 166MM and the 1967 330 P4.
After 22 years of sole ownership, despite dominating the race tracks and enjoying decent market success, small car manufacturers started feeling the pressure of big corporations like Ford and Fiat. It was time to take things to another level.
Ford VS Ferrari
Even though Ford never actually bought Enzo’s company, this was a significant event in the story of its ownership. Before we touch upon Fiat’s 50% purchase of the company, we have to talk about Ford.
At the time Ford was struggling to sell its cars to the younger population. Chevrolet was turning heads with its new Corvette while Ford lacked the passion, sportiness, and general desirability it was craving.
To turn things around, Ford decided to enter the world of racing. Instead of developing their own performance race car, they offered to buy the whole company and all of Ferrari’s assets.
This is where things took a bad turn for Ford. Enzo was seemingly very keen to go through with Ford’s purchase but things came to a halt once Enzo learned that he would lose control of his racing department and motorsports program.
With both groups sitting at a table about to sign the contract, Enzo hesitated at part of the contract that stated that Ford would manage all decisions overseeing the racing team.
Enzo underlined the words ‘submit’ and ‘to obtain’ twice using a violet ink pen then launched a series of insults at the Ford executives. After making his feelings be known, Enzo turned to his lawyer and stated ‘let’s go and eat’ at which point they walked away from the deal, leaving the fourteen Ford Executives dumbfounded.
This turn of events spurred Ford to develop their own 24-Hours Of Le Mans race car – the Ford GT40.
Fiat’s Purchase of 50% (1969-1988)
To make things even more interesting, right after the failed negotiations with Ford, Ferrari sold 50% of the company to Fiat. Some speculations even suggest that Enzo was never really interested to sell the company to Ford, he just used them as a prop to build up the price for the later sale to Fiat. Fiat was also more than eager to buy the company so they could get access to their engines. A Ferrari engine was later used in the Fiat Dino.
By selling to Fiat, Enzo not only received a handsome payout but was also able to keep control of his motorsport division.
By selling to Fiat, Ferrari also got to use the parts which Fiat was developing and manufacturing. They were able to take their cars to the next level by using Fiats electronics (these were expensive to develop and manufacture). However, Fiat did not make the most reliable electronics on the market which led to a lot of electronic issues for Ferrari’s in this era.
The 90:10 Years of Fiat Ownership (1988-2005)
At Enzo’s passing in 1988, Ferrari was already considered the iconic sports car manufacturer that it is today. The last “Enzo approved” vehicle was the iconic F40.
With Enzo out of the picture, Fiat doubled down on their investments into the company. They bought an additional 40% of the business which meant they owned a whopping 90% of the company. The remaining 10% was left to Enzo’s second son, Piero.
It was during this time that the company created some breathtaking vehicles such as the F50, and the F355 Berlinetta.
The Years of Mubadala and Their 5% (2005-2010)
In 2005, an investment group from Abu Dhabi called Mubadala offered to buy 5% of the company through Mediobanca (an Italian Merchant Bank). Fiat was now already a part of the FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and was trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Because they found themselves in rough trading conditions, they agreed to the 5% sale. They sold it under one condition. They were allowed to repurchase the 5% of shares at any time in the future.
FCA sold the 5% share in 2005 for 114 million euros. Fiat Group SpA exercised an option that enabled it to buy back the stake Mubadala acquired in 2010.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne stated that he wanted to buy back the 5% stake to restore its historical 90 per cent share in the manufacturer.
The Return to Italian Ownership (2010-2015)
Upon the FCA Group buying back the 5% shares they sold to Mubadala, the company was once again in Italian ownership.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles at this stage was now wanting to focus on an ambitious growth plan but needed assistance with an influx of cash.
Stand Alone Company (2015-2016)
In October of 2015, FCA announced they will be separating Ferrari S.P.A from the FCA Group.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said that seeking a separate path for Ferrari was required to secure the 2014-2018 Business Plan and move toward maximizing the value of their businesses to its shareholders.
The two companies remained bound through the Agnelli family, the biggest shareholder in FCA. The Agnellis, who are descendants of Fiat founder, Giovanni Agnelli, owned around 25% at the time.
Who Owns Ferrari Today (2016-present)
Since the 3rd January of 2016, the car manufacturer is an independent holding company under the name Ferrari N.V.
The new, separate company was incorporated in the Netherlands and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker “RACE.”
Ferrari went public at a $9 billion valuation with a price-to-earnings ratio of 33. FCA IPO offered 17,175,000 shares, which was equal to about 9 percent of the share capital. The remaining 80% of what FCA owned was sold to its FCA shareholders.
Although its early days listed in the NYSE were turbulent with prices dropping 41% in its first 4 months of trading, it has since rebounded very well with prices rebounding over 450% since it bottomed out in early 2016- a great return for stock holders.
So as you can see, the company has seen many changes over the decades in regards to ownership. As to who owns Ferrari now – well given it is no longer privately owned and is a public-traded company, you too could have a slice of ownership.