Foreign press seems particularly interested in monitoring Italian interest in selling its brands and big industrial groups abroad. A few days ago, the Italian Economy Minister, Fabrizio Saccomanni, directly answered to these speculations stating in public that the government has no interest and no plans to oppose foreign takeovers of domestic companies.
He is indeed aware that the national huge defence group, Finmeccanica, is considering selling AnsaldoEnergia to South Korean Doosan Heavy Industry, while Italy's main telecoms operator, Telecom Italia, seems an interesting deal for the Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris.
Mr. Saccomanni told Reuters that Italy does not have "any strategy to prevent such Investments", as, on the contrary, the government is currently welcoming foreign investors even more that it was used to do in the past. To confirm this, the Minister highlighted that by the end of October Italy is going to present a broad and brand new privatization plan. The aim of this plan is looking for "a comprehensive programme that includes the ... (sale) of real estate assets but also of financial assets in state-controlled companies."
Mr. Saccomanni further clarified that the government has no "role to play in single negotiations", as it should be "up to the companies involved to decide on the terms and conditions for foreign takeovers." However, some doubts arise since the Italian state has large stakes in some of its biggest national companies, including oil and gas giant Eni, Finmeccanica, and utility group Enel.
When asked about the future of the Italian banking system, Mr. Saccomanni stressed that "a range of small Italian banks that have been hit by poor management and capital shortfalls may end up merging rather than having to tap the state for aid". Nevertheless, although at the moment several mid-size banks are run by the Bank of Italy, after inspections showed that they were vulnerable, many analysts believe this procedure won't be enough to save them, and external help will be needed to rescue them.