News Analysis: Berlusconi drops from 10 richest Italians list as economy evolves toward exports

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-28 06:12:21|Editor: Liangyu
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ROME, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- For only the second time since the early 1990s, Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media tycoon who was Italian prime minister four times, is not among the ten richest people in Italy -- a retreat analysts said was due to the rise of owners of export-driven companies.

Don't feel bad for Berlusconi, 81, who still checks in at number 11, with a net worth of around 3 billion euros (3.5 billion U.S. dollars), according to the list compiled by the Milan weekly "Milano Finanza."

At the top of the list for the sixth consecutive year is Leonardo Del Vecchio, founder of Luxottica, the world's largest eyewear maker. He has a personal net worth of nearly 21 billion euros. That is nearly twice as much as the Rocca di Tenaris brothers, makers of pipes used in oil and gas exploration.

Berlusconi, who derives most of his wealth as the leading shareholder in Mediaset, the country's largest private broadcaster, is an exception among the wealthiest Italians.

Dominating the list are producers of export products. In addition to eyeglasses and pipes, the top ten list features leading shareholders for pharmaceutical distributors, carmakers, food producers, and fashion companies.

Conspicuously absent from the list are large financial services companies and digital companies. All told, nine of the 50 richest people in Italy come from the luxury sector, "Milano Finanza" reported.

Berlusconi briefly dropped from the ratings in 2012 before reappearing the following year. He first emerged among the richest Italians in the early 1990s.

"Over the last few years, the Italian economy has increasingly switched its focus from domestic consumption to exports," Fedele De Novellis, an economic analyst with REF research, told Xinhua. "With economic growth that trails most of the rest of the world, it's harder and harder for a company to grow large focusing on the Italian market."

Despite having the ninth largest economy in the world, "Forbes," a United States-based finance magazine that ranks the richest people in the world, has listed an Italian among the 25 wealthiest individuals in the world only twice in the last 15 years -- in 2012 and 2013, when Michele Ferrero, then patriarch of chocolate maker Ferrero, ranked 23rd in consecutive years.

"The lack of big financial players makes it more difficult for Italian companies to grow via mergers and acquisitions, which is what happens in many other countries," Matteo Caroli, an economist with Rome's LUISS University, said in an interview. "Italian companies also invest too little in research and innovation."

"The Italian economy is still relatively uncompetitive compared to many others and so companies that do well in Italy aren't necessarily prepared to be competitive on a global level," he said.