Caltagirone: “Regulations are needed to safeguard family capitalism”

Family capitalism, so rooted in our country, continues to be a winning model; also because in a rapidly changing world it is able to adapt more easily. A reflection on this peculiarity of the Italian economic system could not be omitted during the Economy Festival dedicated by the Sole24Ore Group to the “Future of the Future”. Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone, president of the group of the same name, and Gian Maria Gros-Pietro, president of the board of directors of Intesa Sanpaolo, spoke about it in the Castello del Buonconsiglio in Trento in a debate coordinated by the director of Sole24Ore Fabio Tamburini.
It was up to Caltagirone to outline the characteristics of this model, which has its roots in Italian history. What do you need to be able to look to the future? An important issue is, of course, that of generational succession. According to the Roman businessman, although the tax rules that regulate the succession are adequate, those that impose the distribution of assets between the heirs should be modified, largely with compulsory actions. Rules that do not allow economic resources to be concentrated “in the hands of the best, to whom the majority of the company must be given, once all the others have secured a level of inheritance that guarantees well-being”. “A son – argues Caltagirone – can be an entrepreneur or just a rich man: it’s one thing to have the spirit, the culture, the sense of sacrifice of entrepreneurs, it’s another to have only a heritage”. So here is the suggestion: reduce the current mandatory quotas “to safeguard family capitalism”. The risk these days is that the heirs will be seduced by investment fund proposals that sometimes strip companies of their value. A situation well outlined by Gros-Pietro, although in the distinction between correct operators and those who instead “reduce the quality of products and extract liquidity”. For the latter, the sentence of the president of Intesa Sanpaolo is severe: “This is not finance, it is theft.”


But how is the family business doing with the upheavals of recent years? “We, who have a somewhat disorganized country situation, with a less stable system, are able to react better than the Germans, whose characteristics work instead in times of stability,” explains Caltagirone, recalling the gap that emerged recently in terms of GDP growth. this time against Germany. And he gives an example of change underway: that of cities whose role is being transformed in times of telework and the spread of electronic commerce: “The function of cities is changing, at the center of which offices and shops they are empty, and a prompt effort is required. reaction.” Then the reasoning extends to the function of the company, which is also “social” and goes beyond the return on invested capital: “We need another kind of remuneration, an applause from society like the which in the Roman civilization was reserved for those who were successful.” Otherwise, it is the paradox, “if there is only a capitalism without entrepreneurs and formed only by managers, it might as well be a state capitalism.”
Yes, managers. Important to the management of the company, but sometimes unable to make a risk assessment that really looks at the future with balance. “The entrepreneur chooses the managers but the managers cannot choose the shareholders” sums up Caltagirone. When this happens “there is a problem”. Gros-Pietro echoes him: “The board of directors must act on behalf of the shareholders, but the risk is that management tends to perpetuate itself.” The banker, who is also an economist, cites some of the success stories of Italian family entrepreneurship, “fantastic examples” from the mechanical industry to fashion, from food to the banking sector itself. He also wants to debunk (or rather delimit) a myth, that of companies that must necessarily get bigger and bigger. “Some are right to be small because that way they can be more specialized, like Biontech, the German company founded by a husband and wife who developed the vaccine against Covid.” But if this is an extreme case, “in Italy the companies in the machinery sector may seem small but they have been able to beat the giants of Germany and Japan”.


After the debate is over, there is time for an assessment of the government’s work. Caltagirone sees him as “very active”. And he explains his thinking: “Let’s say there is a time to sow and a time to harvest.” At the moment, the executive “is sowing well, after six months he cannot reap”. The businessman points out that “there is great respect and love for the country” even abroad. And to those who ask if this debut of the new coalition led by Giorgia Meloni was expected or if it was a surprise, he answers: “I can’t say if I expected it, but I say it was necessary.”

Source : IL Messaggero

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