Italy: Battle at the Bank

Political meddling in business is as commonplace in Italy as pasta on the dinner table. The late Enrico Mattei, for instance, operated E.N.I., the giant government petroleum complex, almost as a financial arm of the Christian Democratic Party. A major exception to the rule has been Rome's Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, which for 53 years has kept out of politics even though the Treasury Ministry is its majority stockholder.

So adamant was longtime Director-General Imbriani Longo, now 72, about the proposition that politics and bank ing do not mix that he even declined government honors and decorations.

Longo's policies paid off....

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