A few months ago, the Italian government clarified its intention to raise up to twelve billion euros from the sale of assets and stakes in State-controlled companies in 2014. A similar target was set for 2015, 2016 and 2017 as well, highlighting Matteo Renzi's commitment to recur to foreign direct investments to stimulate national growth.
A few months after this announcement was made, the Italian Priemier seems coping with his original promise. Last week, Italy and China signed business deals worth about 8 billion euros. This deepening of bilateral commercial ties comes after a 5 billion euros shopping from Beijing in stake acquisition of some of Italy's biggest companies. Among them, the largest insurance companies Generali, the Torino-based biggest automaker Fiat, top domestic telecoms operator Telecom Italia, the world's biggest cable-maker Prysmian, leading oil and gas operator Eni and domestic utility giant Enel. Last but not least, during his Italian tour, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang officially stressed that these deals are no more than an "antipasto" and should open the way to further accords with China in the future.
According to Massimo Saletti, a managing director at Deutsche Bank, "there is a general feeling that other markets have already been explored from a valuation and opportunity standpoint, and Italy is an obvious choice for capital at competitive pricing levels".
Chinese and foreign investors in general are now looking at Italy as they need to diversify their investments, and the recession the country is currently going through has created several economic opportunities that foreign nations do not want to miss. Confirming this trend, in mid-October Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC paid an undisclosed sum to acquire 50 per cent of the Roma Est mall from CBRE Global Investors, leaving it in total control. Singapore adopted a different buying strategy compared to China, but it is undeniable that both countries are confident in the long-term prospects for Italian economy, raising the success rate of Renzi's huge privatization plan.