Made in Italy is tempting, from Gucci to Saras, brands and companies that end up in foreign hands

Saras is just the latest Italian company to see control pass to a foreign group. There are many big names in the Made in Italy, symbol of the Belpaese in the world, whose ownership no longer speaks Italian, because it is partly or totally in the hands of international investment funds, groups or holdings. From luxury to automotive, no sector has been spared. Asia, and in particular China in particular, has been shopping for important brands in recent years (at the end of 2019 in Italy 405 Chinese groups boasted stakes in over 700 Italian companies) but in the risk of acquisitions the luxury and fashion sector it was certainly the one with the tastiest loot. This is the case of France, which has not spared several Made in Italy brands, such as Fendi.

The Roman maison was purchased in 2001 by French giant LVMH by Bernard Arnault. Also Gucci in 1999 it passed into the hands of François-Henri Pinault of Kering, who also controls the Italian brands Brioni, Pomellato, as well as Bottega Veneta, Richard Ginori and Dodo, while the ‘rival’ LVMH bought up Italian brands such as Emilio Pucci, Acqua di Parma , Bulgari and Loro Piana. Even Versace, since 2018, no longer speaks Italian. The Medusa brand, founded in 1978 by Gianni Versace, was purchased by the Americans Michael Kors and Capri Group, the latter taken over in 2023 by Tapestry for 8.5 billion dollars.

Even Valentino, in 2012, ends up in the hands of the Mayhoola for Investment group, a Qatari company, while Coccinelle belongs to the Korean E-Land Mazzieri, the same ones who own Mandarina Duck. Sergio Rossi, a historic Italian footwear brand, will pass into the hands of the Chinese financial group Fosun in 2021. And Krizia is also Chinese, in the orbit of Shenzhen Marisfrolg Fashion Co Ltd since 2014. Then there is Rinascente, which in 2011 was acquired by Central Retail Corporation, the Thai group leader in the distribution and department store sector in the South-East Asian. In September 2019, Buccellati jewels become the property of Swiss group Richemont, after having been owned by the Chinese group Gangsu Gangtai Holding since 2017. As for the sportswear brand Sergio Tacchini, after the bankruptcy in 2007 and several changes of ownership, it ended up in the portfolio of the South Korean clothing group F&F of billionaire Kim Chang-soo who acquired 100% of the capital of Sergio Tacchini operations.

It is not only luxury that is the protagonist of sales outside national borders. Many football clubs (like AS Rome, Inter, Milan), automotive and food at the center of significant changes of ownership. The Italian Pirelli tire group, founded in Milan in 1872 by Giovan Battista Pirelli, in 2015 it becomes majority Chinese, in 1998 Lamborghini cars pass into the hands of the Germans of Volkswagen, Ansaldo Breda, a company that operated in the sector of the construction of railway vehicles in 2015 sells the railway branch of the company to the Japanese Hitachthe. In 2018 it is the turn of another historic company to come under foreign control: the Magneti Marelli. The company is sold by FCA for 5.8 billion dollars to the Japanese CK Holdings controlled by KKr.

Even in the two-wheel sector, shopping is not easy. In 2005 the Chinese Qianjiang group purchased Benelli for 6.3 million euros. In 2012 it’s the turn of Ducati end up in the group’s portfolio Volkswagen For 860 million euros, sold by Investindustrial. Six years later the Malaguti, after ceasing production in 2011 but continuing to manage the sale of spare parts, throws in the towel and gives the license for use to the Austrian group Ksr Group, which holds another famous brand in its portfolio: the Lambretta. The attempt to relaunch Moto Morini by the Jannuzzelli family also ended in the same year. The historic brand is acquired by the Chinese Zhongneng Vehicle group for 10 million euros. The historical one is also taking the foreign route, but towards Russia Mv agusta: in 2019 Timur Sardarov rose to 100% of the capital, then selling 25% to Ktm


Not to mention the tormented affair of the ex Alitalia, now Ita Airways, struggling with the postponement of the EU green light for the agreement with Lufthansa. Piaggio Aerospace found a home in Abu Dhabi in 2014, while in 2015 Pininfarina became Indian with Mahindra. It’s a case apart from the history of Barilla, where the family of the same name has been at the helm of the group for four generations. In 1971 the brothers Pietro and Gianni Barilla, for family reasons and those linked to the historical-social period, decided to sell the company to the American multinational Wr Grace. Barilla remained under the management of Grace until 1979. From the moment of the sale and for the following 8 years, Pietro Barilla’s fixed thought was “how to take the company back”. Thus, in 1979, signing a special case history in the business world, Pietro Barilla he manages to reacquire the company, which has remained in the family’s Italian hands ever since.

In food, however, this is not always the case. Nestlé buys Buitoni and Perugina. In 2014, Garofalo pasta announced its entry into the capital with a 52% share of the Spaniards of Ebro, the same multinational that also controls Riso Scotti. Parmalat also passed to the French company Lactalis in 2011, which also owns Galbani and Invernizzi. Beer most Italian in the world, Peroni, is purchased by Japanese Asahi. But not only. The group Heineken it focuses a lot on Italy and takes over Moretti beer, Messina, Dreher and the ‘Sardinian soul’ Ichnusa. In the mid-90s it already controlled 38% of the Bel Paese market.

And always in the beverage industry an icon like the Lemon soda is sold by the Campari group to the Danish Royal Unibrew for 80 million euros. Another case of recent years concerns the Genoese sugar Eridania, which has been in French hands since 2016. Pernigotti chocolates also fly abroad, first in the hands of the Turks Toksoz and then taken over by JP Morgan. The oils, however, speak Spanish Bertolli, Carapelli, Sasso, San GiorgioGiglio Oro, owned by Deoleo, while Star in 2007 became part of the international Gallina Blanca Star group, 100% controlled by the Spanish Agrolimentare group.

Excursions by foreign groups also in the cement sector, with the passage of 45% of Italcementgods Pesenti brothers to the group Heidelberg Cement for 1.67 billion. And the white goods industry also continues to lose important players: in 2014 Whirlpool took home 60.4% of Indesit’s capital in an operation worth 758 million euros and four years later it was the turn of Candy end up at the Chinese Haier for 475 million euros. In short, the made in Italy has always been and continues to be attractive to foreign companies in all sectors.

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