Carlo De Benedetti

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Carlo De Benedetti
Carlo De Benedetti - Trento.JPG
Carlo De Benedetti at the Festival dell'Economia di Trento, 31 May 2012
Born (1934-11-14) 14 November 1934 (age 84)
Turin, Italy
OccupationIndustrialist. Ex-CEO of FIAT, Olivetti, CIR Group. Ex-deputy chairman of Banco Ambrosiano and ex president of Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso.

Carlo De Benedetti (born 14 November 1934)[1] is an Italian industrialist, engineer and publisher. He is both an Italian and naturalized Swiss citizen.[2][3]

He was awarded the Order of Merit for Labour by the Italian state in 1983,[4] the Medaglia d'oro ai benemeriti della cultura e dell'arte (Gold medal of culture and art)[5] and the Legion d'Honneur in 1987.[6]

De Benedetti is chairman of the Rodolfo De Benedetti Foundation (Fondazione Rodolfo Debenedetti) in Milan, which he founded in 1998 in memory of his father. It promotes research into economic policy decisions regarding the labor market and welfare systems in Europe.[7][8]

He is currently married to the former actress Silvia Monti.

Life and career[edit]

Born into a wealthy Jewish family, on 14 November 1934, Carlo De Benedetti is the brother of Italian Senator Franco Debenedetti, whose surname is different owing to a spelling error.[9] In 1943, during the World War II, the De Benedetti family fled to Switzerland.[3] After Carlo returned to Italy, he received a degree in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic University of Turin[1] and in 1959 began to work in his father's manufacturing business, the Compagnia Italiana Tubi Metallici Flessibili. He helped improve company profits consistently and in 1972 acquired the Gilardini company, of which he became president and CEO until 1976.[1]
Carlo De Benedetti left Italy to return to Switzerland in 1975, owing to possible terrorist threats during the Anni di Piombo period of Italian domestic terrorism.[3][10]

For a brief period, from 4 May to 25 August 1976, he was appointed CEO of FIAT.[11] His resignation from Fiat was caused, according to De Benedetti, by his decision to lay off 65,000 workers, which was refused by Fiat head Gianni Agnelli;[11] other sources say that he was suspected of trying to build up a takeover of power within the company, with the backing Swiss financial groups.[12]

In November 1976, De Benedetti acquired the CIR Group,[1] thereby also obtaining control of the national newspaper La Repubblica and the newsmagazine L'Espresso. In 1978 he became CEO of the Italian manufacturer Olivetti,[1][13] where he remained until his resignation in 1996.[13] As president of Olivetti, since 1983,[1] he quickly and ruthlessly reorganized the company, switching its focus from mechanical typewriters to computers.[10]

In the 1980s, along with other leading business figures, he founded the European Round Table of Industrialists, of which he was vicepresident until 2004. In 1985 he became a member of the European Advisory Committee of the New York Stock Exchange.[6]

In 1995 De Benedetti founded the telecommunications companies Omnitel and Infostrada.[6]

In 1997 he created the Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso (L'Espresso Editorial Group),[14] by merging the L'Espresso and La Repubblica editorial groups. Carlo Caracciolo was appointed president of the group. However, Carlo De Benedetti assumed the presidency in 2006, after the death of Caracciolo.[15] On 26 January 2009, at a press conference, De Benedetti announced his decision to retire from all his executive positions in the CIR group, keeping only - at the request of the Board of Directors - the position of Chairman of the Espresso Group. All the executive positions in the CIR group were given to the current Chief Executive, Rodolfo De Benedetti.[16]

The SME affair[edit]

In 1985, Romano Prodi, then president of the state-owned IRI (Institute for Industrial Reconstruction), tried to sell the IRI share in SME (a former state-owned agency, later turned food industry conglomerate) to De Benedetti, who was then president of Buitoni (a food industry belonging to the CIR group), for 497 billion Italian lira.[17][18] Other offers for SME included most notably one for a joint venture with Fininvest, a media group owned by entrepreneur and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The sale to De Benedetti was later blocked by the then Italian prime minister Bettino Craxi,[17] and SME remained state-owned until almost 10 years later.

De Benedetti brought IRI to court in an attempt to appeal the block, but the court, presided over by judge Filippo Verde, denied his case in 1986.[19] In 1995, Silvio Berlusconi, Cesare Previti and Attilio Pacifico were accused of having bribed Filippo Verde and Renato Squillante to fix the trial against De Benedetti.[20] Berlusconi was later acquitted.

According to Der Spiegel on 7 June 2011, Berlusconi was found guilty of bribery and ordered to pay 560 million € to CIR.


In 1993, during the Mani Pulite (Clean Hands) political-corruption investigations, Carlo De Benedetti was arrested and admitted to having paid a 10 billion Italian lira bribe to government parties, to obtain a purchase order from the Italian Postal Service for obsolete teleprinters and computers. In May of that year, he was officially put under investigation, but De Benedetti never went to trial for this episode, the statute of limitations having expired.[21][22]

The Banco Ambrosiano[edit]

De Benedetti became deputy chairman of the Italian bank Banco Ambrosiano in 1981, by acquiring 2% of the capital, but left after only 61 days.[6][23] In April 1992, Carlo De Benedetti and 32 other people were convicted of fraud by a Milan court in connection with the collapse of the bank.[24] Benedetti was sentenced to six years and four months in prison,[24] but the sentence was overturned in April 1998, by the Court of Cassation.[25]


Carlo De Benedetti has often been identified with Italian centre left politics.[26] He has a long-standing feud with Silvio Berlusconi, and his L'Espresso editorial group currently publishes the main centre-left-leaning Italian newspaper (La Repubblica) and newsmagazine (L'Espresso). He has been called a "foe of Berlusconi" by the Wall Street Journal.[16]

In October 2005, De Benedetti reportedly offered Benjamin Netanyahu, then the Finance Minister of Israel, the position of Italian finance minister, which Netanyahu declined.[27] De Benedetti later said it had been a joke. Ehud Gol, the Israeli ambassador to Italy, had introduced the men.[28]



  1. ^ a b c d e f (in Italian) "Sfide perse e vinte: Repubblica-Mondadori", Gazzetta di Mantova, 10 March 1998, webpage: GL2.
  2. ^ "Berlusconi attacca De Benedetti e Mauro". Il Sole 24 Ore (in Italian). 2 September 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "De Benedetti: "Ecco perché ho la doppia cittadinanza"". La Repubblica (in Italian). 2 September 2009.
  4. ^ (in Italian)
  5. ^ (in Italian)[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b c d "De Benedetti: lascio tutte le presidenze". La Stampa. 26 January 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-03-01. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
  7. ^ "Profile: Carlo De Benedetti", Festival of Economics of Trento, 2012
  8. ^ " Fondazione Rodolfo DeBenedetti - Highlights".
  9. ^ "De Benedetti indagato con il fratello Carlo". Corriere della Sera. 16 January 1997.
  10. ^ a b Tagliabue, John (February 19, 1984). "Crafting A High-Tech Renaissance At Olivetti". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  11. ^ a b "Tra industria e Borsa cinquant'anni sul ring". 27 January 2009. Archived from the original on 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2009-12-23.
  12. ^ "De Benedetti, finanziere moralista che piace alla sinistra".
  13. ^ a b Tagliabue, John (4 September 1996). "De Benedetti Steps Down as the Chairman of Olivetti". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  16. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  17. ^ a b "La Repubblica/politica: La vicenda Sme Dall'Iri a Berlusconi".
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-09. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  19. ^ "la Repubblica/politica: La vicenda Sme".
  20. ^ "Corriere della Sera - Sme, storia di un processo".
  21. ^ "PPTT poste tangenti", La Republica, 21 May 1993, web: LR21.
  22. ^ "Quell inchiesta contesa", La Republica, 31 October 1993: LR31.
  24. ^ a b "Court Convicts Financier, 23 Others in Billion-Dollar Failure of Italian Bank," Rocky Mountain News, April 17, 1992
  25. ^ "High court overturns conviction of Olivetti chairman in bank collapse," Associated Press, 22 April 1998.
  26. ^ "De Benedetti: imprenditore sfavillante e "nemico" di Berlusconi - Il Sole 24 ORE".
  27. ^ Shimoni, Eli (2005-12-15). "Bibi: I declined ministerial job offer in Italy". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  28. ^ Bar, Yossi (2005-12-16). "Italian tycoon: Treasury offer to Bibi was joke". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  29. ^ Sito web del Quirinale: dettaglio decorato. Archived September 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ Sito web del Quirinale: dettaglio decorato. Archived September 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Media related to Carlo De Benedetti at Wikimedia Commons