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29 March 2018 • Articles


In Italy, activist investors find a happy hunting ground

When U.S. activist investor Elliott Advisers laid siege to Italy’s dominant phone company this month, a shiver went through the country’s corporate sector.

Once a gentile club that resolved its problems in quiet, behind closed doors, corporate Italy is increasingly becoming prey for activist shareholders.

North American and British investors, who favor more aggressive investment styles, have been steadily building their presence in Italy as its cosy network of cross-shareholdings has broken down following the global financial crisis.

The Italian exchange does not give historical comparisons but corporate governance experts say the influence of these funds has been climbing.

“The Italian market seems to have become ripe for activism, especially in the last three years,” said Fabio Bianconi, director of corporate governance consultancy Morrow Sodali.

“Activists in Italy, for example, are pushing for business simplification with spin-offs and disposals.”

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