The Agnelli family is an Italian multi-industry business dynasty founded by Giovanni Agnelli, one of the original founders in Piedmont (in 1899) of what became the FIAT motor company. They are also primarily known for other activities in the automotive industry as the owners of Ferrari since 1969, Lancia (1969), Alfa Romeo (1986) and Jeep (2009) through their own multinational corporation, as well as for having been the main operators of the Juventus F.C. of the Italian Serie A since 1923 and its majority owners since its conversion to a public limited company in 1967.
The family is often described in the English-speaking world as "the Kennedys of Italy" and compared in the Italian-speaking world to the historic Florentine Republic's Medici family and the House of Savoy, from the duchy of the same name, for their role in the country's contemporary history and their activity of patronage in modern art and in sports, By 2008, the extended Agnelli family included over two hundred members, and by 2010 controlled Italy’s largest manufacturer, Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (FIAT), through its EXOR S.p.A. holding company.
Some notable family members
In 1899, Giovanni Agnelli (1866–1945) and a group of investors founded the company Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino (FIAT).
Edoardo Agnelli (1892–1935), industrialist and principal family shareholder of the Italian car company Fiat, was the son of Giovanni Agnelli (1866–1945), the founder of Fiat. He had seven children, Clara (1920–2016), Gianni (1921–2003), Susanna (1922–2009), Maria Sole Agnelli (1925–), Cristiana (1927–), Giorgio Agnelli (1929–1965) and Umberto (1934–2004).
Agnelli's daughter Susanna Agnelli is the first woman to have been Minister of Foreign Affairs in Italy.
Gianni Agnelli (1934–2003) was the oldest son of the industrialist and principal family shareholder of the Italian car company Fiat, Edoardo Agnelli. After WWII he earned a Law degree in Law at Turin University and his nickname was l’Avvocato. He was the head of Fiat from 1966 to 2003 and made the company into the most important company in Italy and one of the major car builders of Europe. Gianni was a Fiat CEO. By 1956 he had become the "richest businessman in modern Italian history." In the 1960s and 1970s Fiat produced millions of modest cars including tiny 500 and 600 hatchbacks. Its Mirafiori plant in Turin, built 600,000 autos a year.
In the 1970s Gianni and Umberto Agnelli hired Cesare Romiti, known as Il Duro or the tough guy. During that time Fiat's production in Italy "peaked in 1970, when it employed well over 100,000 people there and made 1.4 million cars." Romiti led the firm from 28 February 1996 to 22 June 1998. Romiti was instrumental in the company's return to profitability during this period. Paolo Fresco succeeded him in the aforementioned post.
February 1992 saw the start of the mani pulite (Clean Hands) judicial inquiry into Tangentopoli, nationwide corruption with a large number of politicians, bureaucrats and entrepreneurs involved including senior Fiat executives.
In 1996 when Gianni reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 after serving as Fiat chairman for 30 years, Romiti replaced him as chairman. A year after Romiti took over as chairman of Fiat, he was convicted of "having falsified company accounts, committing tax fraud and making illegal payments to political parties." Romiti "was one of the most prominent people convicted since the start of Italy's campaign against corruption in 1992." Even though Gianni Agnelli was not implicated by the magistrates, some believed that he had lacked judgement in not denouncing Italy's endemic corruption and in downplaying Fiat's responsibilities. Gianni Agnelli in fact had defended the actions of Romiti and the co-accused Francesco Paolo Mattioli, Fiat's chief financial officer. An 1997 article published in The Economist quoted Gianni Agnelli confidence in the Turin Two's innocence and concluded that business attitudes among Italy's powerful ancien régime was left unchanged since the scandal of tangentopoli (“bribesville”) emerged. "Mr. Romiti and Mr. Mattioli had approved a series of slush funds from 1980 through 1992 to provide for Fiat's illegal political contributions and had falsified accounts to hide the payments."
While Fiat was a family-controlled company, Gianni Agnelli alone held the family’s controlling stake for nearly 60 years. Fiat is an "individual privately-owned oligopoly." Giovanni Agnelli & C. (GA&C), the family’s limited partnership was Gianni's command center.:18 By 2003, when he died, "The GA&C partnership was worth about 1.3 billion euros, and its assets consisted of listed holding companies Istituto Finanziario Industriale (IFI) and Istituto Finanziaria di Partecipazioni (IFIL), through which the family controlled Fiat and IFIL’s stakes in other companies.":18
By the time of Gianni Agnelli's death in 2003, the "Agnelli family controlled Fiat through a chain of three separate holding companies." Giovanni Alberto Agnelli, Gianni's nephew, who died of cancer in 1997, had been in line to take control of the family companies. In 1997 Gianni publicly announced that his grandson, John Elkann, who was then 21, would succeed him as the head of the family empire. Edoardo Agnelli, Gianni's first-born son died in 2000.
He "died at the age of 81, after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer". At one time the Agnelli assets represented 4.4% of Italy's GDP. At the prestigious 2008 photography exhibition in Rome entitled Gianni Agnelli: An Extraordinary Life, the Agnelli family and the Italian government honoured L’Avvocato. Gianni Agnelli married Marella Agnelli (1927-) They had one son Edoardo Agnelli and one daughter Countess Margherita Agnelli de Pahlen.
According to the Independent Fiat survived the early first years of the twentieth century thanks to "generous government subsidies paid by Italian taxpayers." "As recently as 2002, Italy accounted for more than a third of Fiat’s revenue, and the company built more than 1 million vehicles at six plants in the country."
Giani Agnelli was considered to be the most prominent spokesperson representing the Italian economic elites.
Giani explained his popularity in Italy by saying that he was "always present." "There was a war and I, like many others, took part. Then there were other events such as closer relations with the Americans, and I was there.... We had difficult moments such as terrorism, and I never pulled back. In the course of our lives, of our generation, there also have Been happier moments.":193
Professor Gaspare Nevola of the Università degli Studi di Trento, explained that Italian society celebrated a common sense of belonging and national identity through collective identification at Gianni Agnelli's Funeral.:193
At the end of the 1990s Sergio Garavini claimed that, "Fiat seems like the Austro-Hungarian empire on the even of the First World War.... When the big push came, it fell to pieces while the royal court continued to fight over succession." Avvocato's death was associated with the closing of a chapter by "commentators, politicians, and institutional representatives.":193
Giorgio Agnelli (1929–1965) was a member of Agnelli family. He was the second son of Virginia Agnelli and of the industrialist Edoardo Agnelli. His brother, Gianni Agnelli, was the head of Fiat until 1996.
Umberto Agnelli (1934–2004) was Gianni Agnelli's youngest brother. He was CEO of Fiat from 1970 to 1976. When he knew he was dying and Fiat was in financial trouble, Gianni asked Umberto to return as Fiat's CEO. Fiat had taken out a three-billion-euro loan made in 2002 and was unable to pay it back. If they were unable to find a solution, Fiat would belong to its creditor banks.
Umberto Agnelli was chairman of IFIL Group, the family investment company.
" IFIL’s fat investment portfolio included stakes in Club Méditerranée, French conglomerate Worms & Cie., and department store chain La Rinascente, and provided the family with a steady stream of reliable dividends that offset the wild fl uctuations of profi tability—and lately, loss—at Fiat. Up until 2000, IFIL’s profi ts had grown every year for 15 years, and it had paid 82.7 million euros in dividends to IFI, its parent company, in 2000."— Clark
Margherita Agnelli de Pahlen
Margherita Agnelli de Pahlen (1955-present) the "only daughter and sole surviving child" of Gianni Agnelli, received an estimated inheritance of $2 billion when her father, Gianni Agnelli died. In a lawsuit filed in 2007 and rejected in 2010, Margherita Agnelli asked that the "2004 inheritance agreement signed with her mother be annulled, claiming that it was based on incomplete information." eventually filing "a lawsuit against her father’s three longtime advisors: Gabetti, Stevens and Maron and her own mother, Marella Agnelli, on May 30, 2007. The lawsuit demanded that Gabetti, Grande Stevens, and Maron provide a report on her father's estate "with information pertaining to the historic evolution of the assets" from January 24, 1993, forward." D’Antona & Partners, a Milan-based public-relations firm, provided the The Wall Street Journal with news of the lawsuit before the Agnelli family was aware of it. In Turin, Italy in March 2010 Judge Brunella Rosso rejected the lawsuit filed against Margherita’s mother Marella Agnelli and advisers Franzo Grande Stevens, Franzo Grande Stevens and Gianluigi Gabetti. She had three children John, Lapo and Ginevra who inherited the largest shares of the Agnelli fortune.
John Elkann (1976–) is the chairman and CEO of Exor, an investment company controlled by the Agnelli family, which controls CNH Industrial, Juventus F.C., Cushman & Wakefield. In 2013 he was considered to be the world's fourth most influential manager under the age of 40 by Fortune magazine. He was chosen as heir to the family empire in 1997 by his grandfather Gianni Agnelli who died in 2003. Elkann chairs and controls the automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (which owns the Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Ferrari, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Lancia, Maserati, Mopar and Ram brands).
He is the oldest son of Alain Elkann and Margherita Agnelli de Pahlen. In 2004 John Elkann married Donna Lavinia Borromeo, an heiress of the Borromeo family. John Elkann was chosen as heir to the Agnelli business dynasty in 1997 and took the reins when his grandfather died in 2003. His grandmother, Marella Agnelli (1927–) gave her shares to him to secure his control of the family empire. She divided up Gianni Agnelli's (1934–2003) personal assets with her daughter, Margherita Agnelli de Pahlen.
Fiat formerly represented 4.4% of Italy's GDP. From 2001 to 2004 Fiat had lost more than 6 billion euros and was close to bankruptcy. CEO Sergio Marchionne returned the company to profit in 2005. In 2009 as the U.S. automobile industry was collapsing Fiat became a trailblazer by acquiring an initial 20% stake in the then-bankrupt Chrysler company in a deal with the Obama administration. This saved Chrysler.:2009 By 2013 Fiat was taking full control of Chrysler and merging Fiat-Chrysler into a global giant. By 2013 Chrysler was profitable again but an article in The Economist questioned the financial future of the merged company.
In 2005, Lapo Elkann, (1977–) John's brother, was forced to leave the family company because of a scandal but by 2015 was still one of the largest shareholders in the family business along with John, and their sister Ginevra Elkann (1979–).
Gianni Agnelli's longtime financial advisors were Franzo Grande Stevens and Gianluigi Gabetti. According to an article in the Financial Post, in February 2007 Consob, Italy's market regulator, fined the Agnelli family holding company, then-called Ifil (now known as Exor), for engaging in a complicated illegal trade in 2005. They signed contracts with Merrill Lynch which allowed Ifil "to retain its 30 per cent of Fiat in spite of banks in the same period converting billions of euros of debt owed to them by Fiat into equity in the company." According to an article in the Financial Post, Gianluigi Gabetti, Virgilio Marrone and Franzo Grande Stevens, "were suspended from holding posts in public companies for between two and six months."
Gianluigi Gabetti was director general of IFIL Group, the family investment company since 1971 and worked there as Gianni’s closest financial adviser for over 30 years.:26 When Gianna died in 2003, Umberto asked the octogenarian to return as CEO of Ifil.:27
Franzo Grande Stevens
Franzo Grande Stevens (1928–), is the lawyer of the family. In 2009 he was prosecuted for market manipulation in the equity swap of Ifi-Ifil (now Exor), Agnelli's holding company and Fiat's financial company.
In 2011, Stevens was influential in encouraging Exor CEO John Elkann to move Exor's headquarters from Turin to Hong Kong. Exor, the business group is expanding further into the global market and Hong Kong is one of the most important hubs of international finance and the main access route to the Asian market.
Participation in business and sports
- Corriere della Sera newspaper
Juventus, the most renowned Italian association football club, and one of world's most successful teams operated by the Agnellis since 1923 to 1943 and since 1947 until the date. That society between the club and the Torinese industrial dynasty is the oldest and most uninterrupted in Italian sports, making it the first professional sporting club in the country.
The Agnellis have been credited for much of the team's success and, by extension, in the development of national football, due an administrative gestion model and sporting ethos called by the country's mass media since 1930s as Stile Juventus (Juventus Style) based in patience, consistency and a kind of effective and efficient long-term strategic planning unusual for the administrative model generally used in Italy, both of which the ownership is renowned for. Juventus success in the first half of the 1930s allowed that management to influence in the management model from other Serie A clubs since the end of World War II, emerging as the reference organisational model for the sport in the Peninsula.
Juventus' majority owners since the club's conversion to a public limited company in 1967, since 2011 it is presided by Andrea Agnelli, grandson of Edoardo Agnelli, the first member of the family in front of the maximum club's dirigencial charge and considered the ideologue of the Juventus Style.
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