Foreign investors flock to Italy amid crisis

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14:40 CEST+02:00
Foreign investors have steadily increased their ownership of Italian firms amid the economic crisis, with over 40 percent of the stock in listed companies now in foreign hands, according to a new report.

Foreigners increased their holdings in firms listed on the Milan stock exchange by €75.6 billion to €215 billion between January 2013 and January 2014 as they made the most of lower priced shares, and now own 41.8 percent of the total stock, according to the report by Unimpresa, the national union for companies.

The investment helped to boost the total value of companies listed on the exchange from €354.7 billion to €514.3 billion during the same period, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Italian government also increased its holdings by €5.3 billion, and now has a portfolio of shares worth €16.1 billion.

But while the foreign investment is delivering value to Italy's economy, Paolo Longobardi, the president of Unimpresa, said it is important to distinguish between the long-term investors, who would help Italian businesses to develop, and speculative buyers.

“The tremendous crisis that is hitting Italy, more so than in other countries, is bringing valuable pieces of our economy to foreign investors who do not always buy with long-term aims,” he said in a statement.

The chairman of the Italian Business & Investment Initiative told The Local last week that the ongoing crisis made the country ripe for investment.

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READ MORE HERE: 'The crisis is extremely healthy for Italy'

But despite the increase in foreign ownership of companies on the stock exchange, Italian families still control most of the country’s industry, with 53 percent of all Italian businesses being family-run, Unimpresa said.

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