Italy: Hens Nesting on Rocks

Italians loathe free competition, wrote Author Luigi Barzini, preferring to protect themselves by rigid organization. Barzini's theory is especially borne out among old-guard Italian financiers. To preserve their power — and the value of their investments — they arrange for their firms to control one another through a cozy network of holding companies. Chemical-making Montecatini Edison, Italy's largest private industrial corporation, was long the leading shareholder in both Italpi and Sade-Finanziaria, holding companies that, as it happens, control Montecatini Edison. Italmobiliare is 100% owned by Italcementi, an important shareholder in...

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