I Came, I Saw, I Gained Control

Italy's De Benedetti stages a daring raid on Belgium Inc.

The foreign invader wheeled into Brussels last week in a shiny black Mercedes and swept immediately into a jammed press conference. Wearing a gray pinstriped suit and smoking a thin cigar, Carlo De Benedetti, the Italian industrialist, began confidently. "Allow me to introduce myself," he said. "I was born in Turin. I'm 53 years old. I'm not really sure where I live, but it's somewhere between Turin, Milan and airplanes." Then the high-flying entrepreneur proceeded to explain why he wanted to do what many proud Belgians viewed as the unthinkable, to gain control of Societe Generale de Belgique, their country's largest...

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