A Hong Kong-based investment fund called Ideal Team Venture has acquired Italy’s iconic De Tomaso sports car brand for just over 1 million euros.
Ideal Team won a bidding auction carried out by a Turin bankruptcy judge, who has given the fund until May 1 to put forward the cash for the purchase.
Industry observers are skeptical about whether the deal will be completed. Ideal Team may be the fourth in a line of buyers attracted by De Tomaso’s heritage that do not manage to close a deal.
Milan-based lawyer Giampaolo Salsi, who represented the Chinese buyer, told Italian media earlier this week that Ideal Team plans to manufacture cars under the De Tomaso brand in China.
Salsi did not return calls from Automotive News Europe seeking comment, but his office confirmed the details of the sale as reported by the press.
Ideal Team’s competitor in the bankruptcy auction L3 Holdings won the first bidding round in March, but the auction had to be re-done when L3 failed to honor its financial commitments.
De Tomaso was founded in 1959 by Argentine race car driver Alejando De Tomaso. Its cars included the Pantera and Mangusta coupes. The Pantera's main market in the 1970s was the U.S. where it was sold as a unique blend of Italian sports car powered by a Ford-built engine. It cost about half the price of a Ferrari but delivered as almost much speed and styling pizzazz.
After De Tomaso’s death in 1993, his heirs liquidated the company.
A botched revival attempt led by former Fiat executive Gian Mario Rossignolo that started in 2009 collapsed in 2012 with the arrest of Rossignolo and two other men for misuse of public funds. Public prosecutors in the city of Turin last month asked for Rossignolo and 11 others to stand trial. No decision has been made.
After Rossignolo exited the picture in 2012, his family sold the brand to Car Luxury Investment, an Italian unit of Chinese group HotYork Investment.
De Tomaso models are still popular with classic car enthusiasts.
Ideal Team could not be contacted by Automotive News Europe because it has no website or the easily available contact details commonly found in the financial community.
Regardless of whether the deal goes through or not, some 800 workers at De Tomaso, who have been on a temporary layoff scheme for years, face an uncertain future. Regional and local authorities plan to hold meetings next week with labor union leaders to try to work out a solution, Italian media have reported.