The family at the helm of legendary Italian car designer Pininfarina is reportedly selling their stake in the company. Pininfarina's €600 million debt is seen as the reason behind the move.

The family behind Italian auto designers Pininfarina will sell their majority stake in the company.  The decision comes as part of an agreement to restructure the company's debt, made worse by the lackluster economy.

The Pininfarinas currently hold 50.6 percent in the company that also manufactures cars for Ferrari and Maserati.  They have worked with many other major car companies over their 78-year history, like Peugeot, Alfa Romeo, Cadillac, Jaguar, and Volvo.

Currently, Pininfarina owes roughly €600 million to various banks.  An investment bank has not yet been chosen to handle the sale.

Already operating in turmoil since the August death of CEO Andrea Pininfarina, the Turin-based company saw their share price tumble 67 percent over the course of the year.  Andrea Pininfarina died at age 51 in a motorcycle accident.  He was the grandson of company-founder Battista "Pinin" Farina.

Pininfarina's most recently announced project, the Pininfarina B0 (B Zero) is an electric car introduced just after the CEO's death.  Shown off at the Paris Auto Show the hatchback was revealed to have an all-electric top speed of 80 mph, with a 153 mile range.  Production of the car is to begin at the end of 2009.

It is unclear if the entire 50.6% stake will be sold to one group, effectively squeezing out the Pininfarinas, or if it will be divided up in such a way as to keep part of the company in the family.  The family will take on €180 million of the company debt.

Be part of something big