Business Abroad: Invader from Italy

Two years ago, standing hip-deep in the swollen waters of an Irish river, a pair of ardent fishermen uncharacteristically sandwiched a bit of business talk in between their casts. Their catch: three salmon and an idea that seems likely to result in the biggest Italian economic invasion of Britain since the days of the Lombard bankers.

One of the fishermen was Enrico Mattei, 55, lean, restless boss of E.N.I., Italy's state-owned oil and gas monopoly. A rapidly growing power in international business, Mattei has outraged the major oil companies by flooding their European markets with his own gasoline (much of it...

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