Trustbuster With Teeth

Giuseppe Tesauro has smacked some of Italy's biggest firms and associations with impressive fines in the name of competition

Competition has been a dirty word for decades in Italy, particularly for entrenched state monopolies like Alitalia and the electric company ENEL. But the private sector hasn't liked the word much either. If the country's suddenly energized Antitrust Authority has its way, however, businesses may have to get used to it. Last July Italy's insurance firms got a rude awakening when the Authority slapped them with $350 million in fines after determining they had fixed prices for many forms of vehicle insurance.

The Authority, established in 1991, has gone on a tear over the past couple of years, thanks to a...

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