Italy Jumps On Nationalization Bandwagon: Tax Police "Seizes" 20% Of Second Largest Domestic Insurer

Tyler Durden's picture


At least Argentina kinda, sorta had the right idea: find an expensive foreign asset and nationalize it, impotent EU sound and fury be damned. Key word here: foreign. A few days later, the latest trade was escalation move appears to have gone viral, if with some curious, and serious, modification in the process. Minutes ago we learned that the Italian Finance police had seized a 20% stake in a heretofore unnamed firm (how does the police seize a stake? They pocket 20% of the electronic shares held in custody by the local DTCC? or they kidnap 20% of the Board of Directors? Inquiring minds want to know). We vaguely expected it would be a retaliatory move, and the firm would be based out of Latin America. No such luck. As Reuters fills in, the company "seized" is Premafin, "which controls Italy's No. 2 insurer Fondiaria-SAI as part of a judicial probe on market manipulation, the tax police and a judicial source said on Thursday."

At this point we can only say poor Italians for two reasons: 1) it appears that unlike in the US, where the SEC actively encourages market manipulation, especially if by means of High Freaks, Italians will be punished for such meddling trifles which achieve nothing but to restore some confidence in the manipulated market and 2) when you nationalize, don't, repeat do not, nationalize your own firms. Always go for the foreign ones first. Although there is some hope: "The stake in question is held directly and indirectly by two foreign trusts, the tax police said in a statement. The seizure, part of an ongoing investigation by Milan prosecutors, could complicate a planned merger of Fondiaria with peer Unipol." So ok, Italy got the nationalization part only half wrong. Good. So....first Argentina, now Italy: who is next on the nationalization bandwagon.

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Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:04 | 2358948 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Bah, We did this with AIG years ago. Italy is just behind the times, the next story will be the bailout of Fiat, who will be saved for their incredible electric car that is coming out. If they want to be cool, they need to nationalize something that Italians don't own. I suggest Goldman, or JP Morgan as great targets. 

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:10 | 2358988 Mesquite
Mesquite's picture

RE:..great targets...


Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:33 | 2359269 Mark Carney
Mark Carney's picture

MAybe they should nationalize Mozzarela?



Damn, they do have the best goooood and fresh


Sorry, lost my train of thought there.....

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 18:09 | 2359704 boogerbently
boogerbently's picture

Nationalize oil......HERE.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 20:30 | 2359963 tsuki
tsuki's picture

Okay.  I agree. 

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 21:11 | 2360035 brettd
brettd's picture

Think Eric Holder is going to Texas/Louisiana/Oklahoma and pull that stunt?

Good luck with that.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:18 | 2359023 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

they need to nationalize something that Italians don't own

Italy should nationalize the Gioconda.

The fact that France has not returned this masterpiece to the Italian people is casus belli.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:48 | 2359321 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

+1000, but the french are just hypothicating that asset right now. 

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:46 | 2359115 tempo
tempo's picture

Germany views Italy the same way as the Progessives view the Gulf Coast oil patch. Use them, abuse them, let them rot in hell.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:30 | 2359259 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Riddle me this. Was AIG ever an independent company? Or yet another CIA financial terrorist front?

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 17:10 | 2359584 Kassandra
Kassandra's picture

Somehow I read edible electric car...

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:30 | 2358949 GeneMarchbanks
Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:04 | 2358955 tom a taxpayer
tom a taxpayer's picture

Off Topic - Is that APPL jumping fronm the high dive board?

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:12 | 2358993 SilverTree
SilverTree's picture

Watching, waiting we are.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:47 | 2359113 Bam_Man
Bam_Man's picture

Nothing to see here.

It is completely normal for the stock of "the most valuable company in the world" to have intraday moves of 3-5% every single day.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:32 | 2359260 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Leverage, bitches!

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:06 | 2358960 Yellowhoard
Yellowhoard's picture

When the dollar ultimately crashes and gasoline prices rise faster than wages, our entire energy industry will be expropriated for the national good.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:19 | 2359024 UP Forester
UP Forester's picture

.... along with farms, water, transportation, finances, housing, medical institutions, the internet, and radio waves.


All else will be targetted by drones, courtesy of 2010 Census Bureau contractors' hand-held GPS co-ordinates.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:23 | 2359045 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

How about the miners? I hope at this point when they nationalize them they just ring my doorbell and kick me in the balls and laugh at me too on top of what these stocks have already done.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:39 | 2359096 Paul Atreides
Paul Atreides's picture

When I found out the Canadian census was outsourced to Lockheed Martin I refused to complete it and will continue to do so. In this day and age I also found it highly attractive to have short roots and mobile assets (renting accomodation and PM savings).

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:38 | 2359281 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Do they count you from an airplane?

I was lucky enough to move during the 2010 census, avoiding it altogether. A lady still came to my new house. "Sorry, this house was empty on Census Day. kthxbye!" She then proceed to grill my wife for "witness info" until I came back out and told her the house was empty, and she had no futher business here.

She spent the next 10 minutes in her car in my driveway, likely documenting the encounter, as well as all of our vehicle info. Next census, I'll write the number of people at the house on the front of the form, but nothing else.

I'll also have a gate up well before then.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:51 | 2359335 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

What about home inspections for purchase or re-fi? The Feds mandate that all the interior photos be put in a central database that they control. Wonder if they are looking at your stuff, or just being ready for a raid?

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 18:54 | 2359773 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Counting all the cellphone #'s + 20 % would give them a more accurate head count.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:56 | 2359146 theTribster
theTribster's picture

You read that as well. How about that? Two census operations, one that identifies the GPS coordinates and the other that actually counts people. 30-50 thousand drones will be in our skies next year with the GPS coordinates being transferred whenever they need to "listen" and "watch" a given citizen. Most people have no idea.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:59 | 2359160 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

30 to 50 k drones?  That's an awful lot of contrails elventy111!!11

 Who's ass did you pull that number out of?

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:40 | 2359290 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

The government's. Haven't you seen any of the news about the FAA and drones?

Google is your friend. Well, not really...

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:21 | 2359033 Dick Darlington
Dick Darlington's picture

High gasoline prices are starting have an impact. Enter Ireland:

Caught in commuter hell of mortgage and petrol costs

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 21:11 | 2360037 brettd
brettd's picture

Free solar panels for all!


Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:06 | 2358962 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

I think the U.S started the nationalization bandwagon with GM ,Citi, and, AIG. The rest of the world is just catching up.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:08 | 2358979 GeneMarchbanks
GeneMarchbanks's picture

Nope. The opposite.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:11 | 2358999 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

Sorry I didn't go in chronological order. I'm so pissed about the Egan Jones crap I can't think straight.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:12 | 2358995 What_Me_Worry
What_Me_Worry's picture

In other countries, you nationalize to steal the profit for your government.

In soviet America, you nationalize to bring the losses INTO your government.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:19 | 2359028 Raynja
Raynja's picture

I was worried about my kids going hungry, so I took my wifes dinner and I ate it.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:44 | 2359306 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Somebody has to be the borrower of last resort.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 20:53 | 2360005 groundedkiwi
groundedkiwi's picture

I have just realized that the MADD logo looks like it could be a young Max Keiser!

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:12 | 2359002 nonclaim
nonclaim's picture

Wait until 0bama uses his new power to seize oil, water and all other industries in general in the name of national interests...

We are in for a global highway (robbery) to hell.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:16 | 2359016 pods
pods's picture

Well since the FEDs own or control like 40%+ of the land in the USSA I think that ship has sailed many moons ago.

The title which has been properly rehypothecated to a small area in London so the USSA may use the currency that the proxy bank issues here in the USSA.


Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:22 | 2359040 john39
john39's picture

yes, but obomber makes a great strawman.  we wouldn't want the masses figuring out that the banks actually own everything, including the people...

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 19:31 | 2359853 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

London has proper title to the grand canyon.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 21:19 | 2360041 brettd
brettd's picture

Think Texans will roll with that?

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 19:10 | 2359808 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Yeez, only thing left is to nationalize Healthcare and Energy.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:05 | 2358963 Snake
Snake's picture

brave new world indeed ...

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:06 | 2358970 mr_nice
mr_nice's picture

whatchu talking about??? the company is italy-based, the accusation is that 20% is owned by their italian owners who use the trusts to evade tax. the trusts are based in the caribbean. The trusts can have it back anytime they want as long as they give proof of actually being foreign.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:08 | 2358973 Cdad
Cdad's picture

Who is next?  America!  Nationalize Egan-Jones!

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:07 | 2358975 Sandmann
Sandmann's picture

Fondiaria's woes have attracted the attention of Milan prosecutors.

Salvatore Ligresti, the Sicilian patriarch who controls the group through Premafin, is being investigated for suspected market irregularities, while magistrates have requested bankruptcy proceedings for two of his holdings, which together own 20 percent of Premafin.

Under Ligresti ownership, Fondiaria, Italy's biggest car insurer, has seen its market value shrink over the last five years to 498 million euros from over 5 billion euros. In 2011 it shocked the market with a loss of more than 1 billion euros.

Some investors are angry the Ligrestis could walk away with cash from the Unipol rescue deal.

As a Unipol merger with Fondiaria would change Premafin's spots by turning it into an insurer, Premafin shareholders have a right of withdrawal instead of being diluted in the new group.

Ligresti, known as "Mr 5 percent" for his small stakes in strategic companies, received more than 40 million euros in consultancy fees from Fondiaria in 2003-2010 and was involved in real estate deals between one part of the group and another.

"Shareholders are angered at the wages the Ligrestis have paid themselves over the years. Why should you pay them for destroying value?," Deminor's Boman said.

Fondiaria's meltdown has brought into focus Italy's poor corporate governance record, where shareholder pacts and pyramid ownership schemes have long kept foreign investors at bay.

Stefano Modena, senior partner at Governance Consulting, said Italy's market transparency and shareholder protection rules had improved in recent years, but not enough.

"The problems lie elsewhere - in corporate governance and conflict of interest issues, where controlling shareholders can push through intra-group operations as Fondiaria did," he said.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:22 | 2359037 CH1
CH1's picture

And I'm sure the financial police will help the company turn a profit.


Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:39 | 2359273 Sandmann
Sandmann's picture

Who knows but screwing over minority shareholders might not be acceptable - of course in the US they would probably bend over and take it again....and again........after all American investors don't mind being screwed repeatedly so long as Goldman wins...


"Fondiaria is a serial violator of regulations. It's been messing round with minorities for years and nothing has been done. Shareholders have become resigned," said Erik Bomans, partner at corporate governance activist association Deminor.


Ten years ago Mediobanca, which controls Assicurazioni Generali, Italy's biggest insurer and Fondiaria-SAI rival, helped SAI build a controlling stake in Fondiaria.

The move, essentially to stop it from falling into the hands of the powerful Agnelli family, which controls carmaker Fiat, should have triggered a mandatory bid on minorities under Italian law, but it never happened.

This time round the situation is different because under Italian law a change of control does not trigger a mandatory public tender if it qualifies as a rescue operation.

"It's not good. It's basically a deal that rewards the creditor banks rather than shareholders," a Fondiaria minority shareholder said, requesting anonymity.

"You don't need these mergers. They just saddle Fondiaria shareholders with more debt. Fondiaria needs new management. The rival bid from the funds needs to be looked at," he said.

Premafin, whose only asset is Fondiaria, has around 370 million euros of debt which would be restructured and loaded into its subsidiary.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:10 | 2358977 DormRoom
DormRoom's picture

US is going to nationalize soon.  There must never be a narrative contrary to the MSM cheer.  Hope yall filled out your taxes correctly.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 14:10 | 2358991 GeneMarchbanks
GeneMarchbanks's picture

There. Is. No. Nation.

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 15:54 | 2359347 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Marc Stevens is the absolute best teacher of this idea I've ever seen. Judges desperately fear him.

Also, his book, "Adventures in Legal Land" is indispensable if you find yourself being victimized by the gang d.b.a. "The State." Inside the cover of mine he wrote the same thing you did, "There is no state!" For such a simple expression, it sure had a profound effect on me, as the blinders were suddenly lifted.

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