The family owners of Italian car designer and niche manufacturer Pininfarina have hired Italy's Banca Leonardo to sell their majority stake in the company, sources said.

A wednesday board meeting decided to sell the 50.7% stake held by Pincar, the Pininfarina family company, as part of a debt agreement made with banks at the end of 2008, Reuters reported.

Company sources said the family won't sell its entire stake but that Pincar would no longer be a majority shareholder.

Various companies have been touted as possible partners for Pininfarina, which has designed cars for Ferrari. It is currently working with French financier Vincent Bollore on developing an electric car.

Bollore has said he would consider taking a stake in Pininfarina. Tata Motors, already allied with Fiat as its Indian joint venture car assembly partner, has been mentioned previously as an investor.