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Cars, property and superjets: Pagani plots future with PIF

Horacio Pagani, Argentine-Italian founder, CEO and chief design officer at his supercar company pagani.com/press
Horacio Pagani, Argentine-Italian founder, CEO and chief design officer at his supercar company unveils the Utopia, which sells for a cool $2.5 million
  • Saudi sovereign wealth fund owns 30% of supercar company
  • Pagani-branded homes in DaVinci Tower begin at $1.5m
  • Pagani Arte designs interiors for luxury private jets
  • High-end cars go for up to $17.5m

Horacio Pagani, founder of the supercar that bears his name, is open to further partnerships with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund as his company expands into luxury real estate and private jet design.

PIF acquired a 30 percent stake in the Italian business in 2021. Pagani, who acts as its CEO and chief design officer, told AGBI: “The idea was always to sell a minority and keep the majority because we like to have the control of the company.

“We are a family, and we enjoy what we do. And we enjoy it because there is freedom in deciding what’s next for creativity and future projects, so it’s a basic [premise] that has to stay.”

The sale of a stake to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund is part of the company’s strategy to expand in the lifestyle segment.

“We are very fortunate and glad to have a partner like them – they invest in a lot of technology,” Pagani said.

“We decided to do the deal because there’s the intention to work on many nice projects for the future – not only automotive, but different things. Real estate is also part of the business plan.”

Pagani, who has also designed homes in the DaVinci Tower portfolio located in Downtown Dubai, said his interest in property originates from his initial job designing motorhomes and caravans.

Riyadh-based Dar Al Arkan plans to complete DaVinci Tower in Dubai this year Supplied
Riyadh-based Dar Al Arkan plans to complete DaVinci Tower in Dubai this year. Picture: Supplied

DaVinci Tower is a project by Saudi Arabia’s largest listed developer, Dar Al Arkan. 

All 80 apartments feature high-end marble and wooden flooring dotted with chevron patterns, doors bearing the Pagani emblem, custom lighting, and tailored pieces from their line of furniture.

Prices for the homes start at $1.5 million.

The company’s lifestyle brand, Pagani Arte, is also working on designs for the luxury aviation sector.

“We’ve done projects with Airbus’s corporate jet division ACJ for an interior of a private jet. We are working now on the interior of a Gulfstream for a private jet, and also interiors for helicopters,” Pagani said.

Honeywell forecasts 8,500 new business jets worth $274 billion from 2023 to 2032, a 15 percent increase in deliveries and expenditures from the same forecast a year ago.

Pagani, whose cars cost upward of $2 million apiece and as much as $17.5 million, said that Arab countries are a key market for the company.

Yacht, Vehicle, TransportationAirbus Corporate Jets
The cabin interior of an Airbus Corporate Jet. Picture: Airbus Corporate Jets

“The Middle East in general covers 30 percent of our sales,” he said, adding that waiting lists for a car run into years.

“The requests are three times what we produce,” he said. “If we have 100 cars, we have 300 requests. The wait time can be four to five years. The fact is, there are so few cars in the market so they get appreciation by the fact that there are not many to trade.”

Pagani said dealers in the region ask him for more allocation all year round. “We gave [our UAE dealer] six cars, but he’s requesting another nine,” he said.

“Saudi is the same, Europe is the same, America is the same. Most of the time it is repeat buyers. I think the average per client is two cars.

“We try to mix it up between new and existing clients because you need new people in the brand. If we say yes only to our existing clients, there are no cars for new buyers.”

According to the Argentine-Italian businessman, the company “chooses customers” for its exclusive luxury possessions and knows the owner of every car it has produced.

“The idea is to always keep the amount of cars very low in the market,” Pagani said. 

“If we do that, we are able to select very well who is going to be the end owner of the car. Selling the car is not the issue. We have to make sure it is going into the right hands.

“Since we’ve started selling cars here in the early 2000s, we’ve always found that clients from the Middle East are very educated because they’ve been car collectors for a long time and they understand Italian design and culture.”

Horacio Pagani, Argentine-Italian founder, CEO and chief design officer at his supercar companypagani.com/press
Pagani with the Compasso d’Oro award of the ADI, the world’s oldest and most distinguished car design award. Picture: pagani.com/press

Despite the eye-watering price tags, Pagani said tough macroeconomic conditions have not hurt demand for his cars, and he remains cautiously optimistic in his approach to business.

“We need to be very careful in taking decisions,” he said. “We try to always stay on the safe side and keep things very controlled.

“If we look at 2008 and 2009, which was probably the worst economic crisis we ever had, this is when we started investing more money because we were coming from a very positive trend. 

“When a lot of different companies started to fire people and stopped investing money in research and development, we did the opposite. We invested more money because we wanted to be ready for when the crisis was finished. 

“When you are in a race, you want to be on the first or second place to start the race. If the race stops, you don’t want to move back, you always want to be waiting on the front.”

Pagani, who began his automotive career at Lamborghini, added that his clients have not been hit by market headwinds.

“Some of our clients are not impacted by the economy,” he said. “During Covid, when we called clients to just check how they were doing – not as a business call, just to see if their families were all right – some said their business had never been so good.

“Sometimes you think that the world is going in one direction but there are clients who are not impacted. So you have to be there [to cater to them] and this is what we try to do.”

PIF, which is the central plank of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil, also has stakes in electric vehicle manufacturer Lucid Group and UK’s McLaren.

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