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Pirelli Goes Chinese

Following speculation in Italy press last week, the news is now emerging that Italian tyre maker Pirelli may well have fallen into Chinese hands.

Rumor has it that the Chinese have taken control of Pirelli in return for pumping around €7 billion into the business. What is not yet clear is whether or not the Chinese have actually taken control of the company and, if this is the case, to what extent.

Some news websites are reporting that ChemChina has acquired a 51% interest whereas others mention a figure of 65%. It is not yet clear which figure is accurate and neither may be.

Pirelli is the latest in a long line of Italian businesses to come under foreign control. Others are Lamborghini and Ducati, both now in German hands.

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Then there’s 49% of Alitalia which is now owned by UAE based company, Etihad airways.

Last but by no means least is the case of iconic former Italian car maker Fiat which is no longer based in Italy and thus, to all intents and purposes, is no longer an Italian company.

So much for former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s desire to keep Italian businesses under Italian ownership. Indeed, talking of Berlusconi, it’s looking as if sooner or later control of his Milan football club may also fall into foreign hands.

One wonders whether those Italian businesses which have fallen into foreign hands would have done so if Italy’s politicians had pulled their fingers out a decade ago or so and forged ahead with reforms. Whatever, it’s too late now.

The Chinese and other nations realise that Italian technology and knowhow is as valuable as gold dust, Italy’s politicians don’t. What a sad state of affairs.

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