MILAN — Lapo Elkann is stepping on the gas with his Garage Italia Customs company, which specializes in vehicle customization, by leveraging the strength in collectible car trading of an international group.
The company established by the Fiat scion in 2015 was quietly acquired earlier this year by Youngtimers AG, a Switzerland-based holding company that operates in the collectible car market and is listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange.
On Thursday, Youngtimers AG revealed that it has issued 50 million new shares priced at 0.70 Swiss francs a share, or 76 cents, via a private placement, led by Elkann’s private investment company L. Holding Srl. In the wake of the transaction — and related capital increase of 35 million Swiss francs aimed at raising funds to support further acquisitions — Elkann will become one of Youngtimers AG’s largest shareholders, with a 23.04 percent stake.
“Garage Italia had built a strong name and vibrant presence in the Italian car scene over the years — the investment from Youngtimers AG will help bring our competences and knowledge of the collectible car space to the global market,” commented Elkann, who will remain nonexecutive chairman of Garage Italia following the deal.
“We have a great vision and a strong international team at Youngtimers AG, with Garage Italia being the essential component of the combined companies’ equity story and the core part of the team, proving the lasting relevance of Milan as the global hub for innovation and thought leadership at the crossroads of automotive, fashion, style and luxury narratives of today,” he added.
The private placement of new shares was also underwritten by other investors including Youngtimers AG’s chairman, car collector and car racing enthusiast Adam Lindemann, who has raised his stake to 3 percent, and vice chairman Clive Ng, who matched Elkann’s interest in the company at 23.04 percent.
Following the acquisition of Garage Italia Customs, Youngtimers will maintain its corporate headquarters in Switzerland and will consolidate all of the marketplace development, content production and car customization operations at the existing Milan headquarters of Garage Italia. The latter were unveiled in 2017 on Milan’s Piazzale Accursio inside a historic former Agip petrol station. Following the Youngtimers deal, Garage Italia Customs’ chief executive officer Enrico Vitali resigned from his post by mutual consent.
“The automotive space in general and the market for collectible cars in particular has undergone rapid transformations driven by generational changes in collectors’ tastes and preferences, and this disruption creates an exceptional opportunity for Youngtimers AG to consolidate its trade in collectible cars focusing on the younger generation of consumers and scalable business models centered on the use of the latest advances in e-commerce and financial services,” commented Lindemann.
“We are particularly delighted to welcome Mr. Lapo Elkann as one of our largest shareholders — his industry experience and access will be an invaluable contribution to Youngtimers AG going forward,” he said.
In addition to owning Garage Italia Customs, Youngtimers AG owns and operates the New York-based Youngtimers Classics, a collectible car trading and securitization platform originally established by Lindemann and Izabela Depczyk, an entrepreneur in the arts, e-commerce and media space.