Almost a quarter of Italian firms has been bought by foreign investors over the past decade, and international shareholders are set to play an increasingly relevant part in the management of Italian companies. This phenomenon is particularly evident in the mechanical and chemical industry, but analysts reckon it is destined to spread across the whole national economy. International investments in Italy are being drawn also by the food industry, which has long been a driving force in the Italian economy and has appealed to international markets like no other. Non-Italian food companies with no ties to Italy whatsoever have been known to give their products “Italian-sounding” names in order to increase sales – with unfailing success. While the Italian food industry has been mostly out of bounds to international investors so far, new possibilities seem to be opening for foreign companies. Why are international companies so interested in investing in Italy? Let’s take a look at the facts.
Who is investing in Italy?
American investors are the most interested in Italian companies. They are attracted by Italy’s outstanding manufacturing industry and highly skilled workforce. According to a recent research by the national institute for social sciences (Censis), emotions play a significant part in this process too. Our national identity is connected with a series of strong and overwhelmingly positive emotions, that are more common in certain nations than others, and that have a measurable influence on certain entrepreneurs’ decision of investing in Italy. The Germans have also been long-time italophiles, with a soft spot for Italian art and creativity. Japanese consumers and investors both also are positively inclined towards Italian products and so are eastern European populations: the Made-in-Italy brand is extremely popular in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. When it comes to exports, all Italian regions have their peaks of excellence, but when it comes to drawing actual investments in the Country, it is Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto that drive the nation, accounting for an impressive 67% of all foreign direct investment (FDI).
What kind of investments are being made?
When thinking of foreign investment, we might be tempted to equate them with mere acquisitions that exploit resources from one Country to generate wealth in another one. This is not the case with foreign companies investing in Italy, particularly American ones. As it happens, the Italian firms that are more attractive to international investors, are those that stand out for their innovative technology and skilled workforce. Investments in such companies generally come with a clear desire to engage in the local economy and be a part of the territorial development that goes with it. The most recent acquisitions of Italian firms by international investors have involved companies located mostly in Emilia Romagna and Lombardy, operating in the fields of industrial machinery, ceramics and mechanical components.
What are the perks of investing in Italy
Of the afore mentioned investments, a vast majority have not involved large corporations, but small-to-medium-sized companies, that have the potential for building a solid economic network across Europe, with ties on the other side of the Atlantic. In this sense, Italian SMEs have proven a reliable and worthy choice to their investors, as they have adapted splendidly to their rapidly changing environment. This situation has been made possible by several new regulations, both Italian and European, that facilitate international agreements and investments. This has counteracted the dreaded effects of Italian bureaucracy, that have held off foreign investors for so long. Once the procedures were simplified, Italy emerged in all of its potential, not only because of its high-quality production and qualified workforce, but also because of its fortunate geographic position, that makes it a perfect trade hub between continental Europe and the Mediterranean area. If you are seeking to invest in Italy, we recommend you start by visiting one of our international tradeshows.