In un articolo pubblicato il 13 giugno 2012, il Financial Times sostiene che l’assetto societario delle imprese italiane è un ostacolo alla crescita in questi tempi di crisi e ci spiega perché.
What is Italy’s problem? Investors fret that it is next in line to be hit by the eurozone crisis now that Spain’s banks have been bailed out. Its sovereign debt, at 120 per cent of gross domestic product, is a heavy burden. But Italy, unlike Spain, remains a vastly wealthy country that ought to be able to help itself. The danger is that its anachronistic corporate ownership structure gets in the way of that.
Three types of shareholder hold sway at Italian companies – families, holding companies and charitable foundations. All have strong local connections and experience in their industries. They form the backbone of Italy’s prowess as an industrial economy. The structure just about works in a growing economy. But in a recession such as today’s, it exacerbates a fundamental problem – a scarcity of non-bank capital.
Recent developments illustrate the issue. One is at Fondiaria-SAI, an insurance company subject to a takeover by rival Unipol. The deal has revealed, among other things, the inability of the Ligresti family to finance its control of Italy’s number-two insurer. Another is the looming shake-out of charitable foundations as key shareholders in Italian banks. The foundations’ lack of capital hurts the banks and cripples the foundations’ own activities. That problem is especially acute at Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena.
Two other recent developments suggest, at the least, a model for a solution. The acquisition by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, a well-financed state holding company, of a 29 per cent stake in Snam, a utility, is one way of disentangling vested interests. The restructuring of Fiat, led by a strong chief executive backed to the hilt by the Agnelli family, is another. The government is taking steps to reduce multi-directorships in Italian boardrooms. Without a revolution in ownership, however, corporate Italy will always be short of capital.