Foreign investors flock to Italy amid crisis

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.

Foreign investors flock to Italy amid crisis
Photo: Shutterstock

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.

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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Romanian billionaire and seven others die in Milan plane crash

A light aircraft piloted by Romanian billionaire Dan Petrescu crashed into an empty office building near Milan on Sunday, killing him, his wife and son, and all five others aboard.

Police and rescue teams outside the office building where a small plane crashed in the Milan suburb of San Donato.
Police and rescue teams outside the office building where a small plane crashed in the Milan suburb of San Donato on October 3rd. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The single-engine Pilatus PC-12 had taken off from Milan’s Linate airport shortly after 1pm headed for Olbia in the north of the Italian island of Sardinia.

It crashed just a few minutes later into a building in San Donato Milanese, a town southeast of Milan, according to aviation agency ANSV, which has opened an investigation.

Witnesses said the plane was already in flames before it crashed into an office building undergoing renovations.

Petrescu’s 65-year-old wife, who also had French nationality, and their son Dan Stefano, 30, were killed.

Italian media identified the other passengers as entrepreneur Filippo Nascimbene, a 33-year-old from Lombardy, with his wife, young son and mother-in-law, who have French nationality.

Petrescu, 68, was one of Romania’s richest men. He headed a major construction firm and owned a string of hypermarkets and malls. He also held Germany nationality, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

Flames engulfed the two-storey building, next to the yellow line subway terminus.

“The impact was devastating,” Carlo Cardinali, of the Milan fire brigade, told news agency Ansa.

Deputy prosecutor Tiziana Siciliano was quoted by Corriere as saying that the plane’s black box had been recovered.