The world’s most famous auto design house, Pininfarina, is in deep financial trouble and Chinese carmakers are lining up as saviours. Reports from China have pointed out to Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (BAIC) and Brilliance Auto as among the companies bidding to acquire the Italian firm.

“BAIC has submitted the bid for the Italian firm for several months. The successful acquisition of Pininfarina will be very favorable for BAIC’s development of future models,” a BAIC exec told eeo.com.cn. The unnamed exec also revealed that he was recently in Italy working with Pininfarina with a Saab-based concept car for this year’s Shanghai motor show.

The hungry Beijing based automaker is no stranger to acquiring foreign help. In 2009, BAIC paid $200 million to GM for three platforms and two engines from Saab, which included the design of the old 9-5.

Apparently, the design house’s other Chinese customers are also interested. Brilliance Auto and Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC) are the other names in the frame to take over Pininfarina, which posted a net loss of 33.8 million euros in the third quarter of 2010. Other names in the rumour mill are Indian company Mahindra and and Magna International.