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Fiat Chrysler returns Ferrari to family control

Italian carmaker Ferrari may return to family control during an initial public offering this year if current owner Fiat introduces a “loyalty share” plan that will boost voting rights of established investors.

Loyalty shares have recently caused a divide between family businesses and institutional investors in Italy. Introduced by the Matteo Renzi-led government last year, they allow shareholders double voting rights if they hold stock longer than two years.

The government introduced the mechanism to encourage long-term shareholdings, but institutional investors, who traditionally prefer the “one share, one vote” mantra, have voiced their concerns about the scheme.

According to Bloomberg, Fiat Crysler's non-family chief executive Sergio Marchionne said Ferrari might adopt a loyalty voting plan. It is likely that Fiat will list an independent Ferrari in the Netherlands where loyalty voting schemes are also legal.

Fiat already introduced such a scheme when it merged into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles last year, rewarding long-term investors, including controlling stakeholders Exor, the holding company of the Agnelli family.

If the programme goes ahead it will provide John Elkann, the fifth-generation chairman of Fiat, together with the son of Ferrari's founder, with 51% of the votes at an independent Ferrari.

Fiat plans to sell at least 10% of Ferrari in the IPO. The money raised will likely help fund a €48 billion ($60 billion) five-year investment plan.

Other Italian family businesses that have already employed loyalty shares include drinks brand Campari, audiology company Amplifon, and construction giant Astaldi.