MILAN, March 30 (Reuters) – Italy’s Exor said on Monday it had agreed to invest $200 million to buy an 8.87% stake in U.S.-based shared mobility company Via Transportation, in what would be the first step by the Agnelli family’s investment firm into the tech industry.
“At this uniquely challenging moment, it is more important than ever to work creatively for a more sustainable future beyond these difficult days,” Exor Chairman and Chief Executive John Elkann said in a statement.
Italians have been under nationwide lockdown for three weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 11,500 people, about a third of all global fatalities.
The Exor-Via transaction, which is subject to antitrust approval, is expected to close in the second quarter, the company said, adding a representative for Exor will join Via board.
The price agreed values the entire Via Trasportation around $2.25 billion.
Founded in 2012, Via is a technology company specialising in urban public mobility systems, competing with operators such as Uber or Lyft. It launched its first platform for on-demand, shared, transit service in New York City in 2013.
Exor, whose investments span from manufacturing to insurances, media and football teams, has controlling stakes in carmakers Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari and in industrial vehicle maker CNH Industrial.
Earlier this month Exor entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to sell its 100% stake in Bermuda-based reinsurer PartnerRE to France’s Covea for $9 billion cash.
Despite market turbulence during the coronavirus pandemic, on Friday Covea said it was committed to the planned acquisition of PartnerRe, although it not give further details.
In November, before talks to sell PartnerRe were made public, Elkann said the firm would have 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) cash by 2022 to spend on acquisitions.
That sum includes a planned special dividend of around 1.6 billion euros Exor would get from the announced merger between FCA and French rival Peugeot.
Analysts believe, however, that the special dividend could be reduced or postponed because of the coronavirus crisis. ($1 = 0.9080 euros) (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; editing by Agnieszka Flak and Grant McCool)