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Pirelli shareholder accord boosts M&A speculation with Brembo, analysts say

FILE PHOTO: Italian tyremaker Pirelli celebrates 150th anniversary

MILAN (Reuters) - An accord for Brembo to align voting with Camfin at Pirelli shareholder meetings supports speculation of an eventual merger between the Italian tyre maker and Brembo, analysts said on Wednesday.

Camfin is an investment vehicle of Pirelli CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera and has a 14.1% stake in the company with options to buy a further 4.6%. Brembo - controlled by the Bombassei family - has a 6% shareholding.

The Brembo-Camfin shareholder agreement, announced on Tuesday, came two weeks after Pirelli's largest shareholder, Sinochem, denied a report it was considering selling its 37% stake. The report rekindled speculation of a change in Pirelli's controlling structure, potentially resulting in a mandatory takeover.

Intesa Sanpaolo analyst Monica Bosio said in a note that investors could look at the new shareholders' pact as a preliminary step towards a potential combination between the manufacturer of tyres for high-end vehicles, such as Ferrari and Porsche, and premium brakes maker Brembo.

"A merger (...) would create a bigger and important player in the premium car market," Bosio said.

Akros analysts said a merger could be a medium-term scenario.

Pirelli, which is also the sole supplier tyres for Formula One, has a market cap of 4.8 billion euros ($5.1 billion), in line with Brembo's 5 billion euros.

By 1030 GMT Milan-listed shares in Pirelli were up 1.9%, while Brembo's were up 0.6%.

However, analysts say synergies from a Pirelli-Brembo combination would be marginal, except for in limited areas.

"Other reasons may have driven the decision, including the medium/long-term need for the top management succession at both companies," Akros analyst Gian Marco Gandini said in a note.

Camfin has a separate shareholders' agreement with Sinochem.

Equita's Emanuele Gallazzi said the Brembo-Camfin agreement reduced the likelihood of an outside takeover as any new investors in Pirelli would have to reach an agreement with shareholders led by Camfin.

"The most like scenario remains the creation of a hard core of Italian investors led by Camfin, able to take a relevant role when the Chinese exit," he said.

Brembo and Camfin had no further comments on Wednesday, while Pirelli was not available for comments.

($1 = 0.9396 euros)

(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Sharon Singleton)