21/05/2024

Dispatch from Rome: March 2024

The Haizum Italian Insider Report is a monthly news service that monitors the most relevant issues in Italy. This document focuses on political, Economic, and Strategic matters, considering the role of Italy within the European Union, the MENA region, and Transatlantic Relations. The report will deliver clever insights by leveraging Haizum’s deep connections in the national institutional ecosystem.

Reading Time: 20 Minutes

SUMMARY

The latest strategic developments in Italy encompass a diverse array of matters, including diplomacy, defense, economy and national security. 

In the realm of institutions, recent appointments and reshuffles have attracted attention, such as Giusi Bartolozzi’s elevation to Chief of Staff in the Ministry of Justice and Robert Giovanni Nisticò’s nomination for the presidency of the Italian Medicines Agency. These moves highlight political maneuvering within ministries and the intricate balance between political considerations and expertise in strategic appointments.

Italy’s doubling of arms exports, positioning it as the third-largest global supplier, underscores its increasing presence in the international defense market. Meanwhile, diplomatic shifts, exemplified by Giorgia Meloni’s appointment of Ambassador Elisabetta Belloni as the new sherpa for G7 and G20 summits, indicate potential changes in Italy’s engagement strategies.

Economically, Italy’s partnership with Silicon Box to establish a semiconductor manufacturing facility represents a significant milestone, aligning with European strategies despite challenges such as slowing growth and rising oil prices. 

In the energy sector, Italy’s focus extends to sustainable energy initiatives with the development of the Green Italy-Morocco Corridor and changes in LNG terminal ownership, reflecting efforts to bolster energy security and diversify energy sources.

On the national security front, initiatives such as the G7 Digital Summit chaired by Minister Adolfo Urso highlight Italy’s commitment to global cooperation in addressing key digital challenges. Additionally, strategic appointments within intelligence agencies underscore the government’s dedication to safeguarding internal security amidst evolving threats.

Strategic company performances provide further insight into Italy’s strategic landscape. From Fincantieri’s progress in orders and revenues to Prysmian’s adaptive strategies in response to industry challenges, these developments demonstrate Italy’s efforts to navigate market dynamics effectively. Tensions within Telecom Italia ahead of its board renewal assembly underscore competing visions for the company’s future direction and strategic priorities.

INSTITUTIONS
GOVERNMENT
Ministry of Justice new Chief of Staff

Giusi Bartolozzi has been promoted to the position of Chief of Staff in the Ministry of Justice under Minister Nordio, amidst controversy and against the preferences of powerful figures like Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano. Bartolozzi, referred to as the “tsarina,” has strong political connections, including with Cosimo Ferri and Enrico Costa, both former members of Forza Italia. Nordio’s political standing appears strengthened by this appointment, despite facing criticism, including over proposals for a commission of inquiry into surveillance scandals. Meanwhile, there have been significant personnel changes at the Ministry, with former Chief of Staff Alberto Rizzo returning to the judiciary, and Maria Rosaria Covelli becoming the new president of the Court of Appeal in Naples. These moves, decided by the High Council of the Judiciary, indicate a broader reshuffle within the Ministry of Justice.

New President of AIFA

Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Tor Vergata, Robert Giovanni Nisticò is the proposed name by Health Minister Schillaci for the presidency of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA). Nisticò, who shares ties with Forza Italia through his father, a former senator and Governor of Calabria, is seen as a politically strategic choice, especially considering the need for approval from the Regions. Despite any political affiliations, Nisticò’s qualifications have been praised by Schillaci, who views him as competent for the role, especially given the AIFA reform’s emphasis on the president’s legal representation and operational leadership.

Born in 1974 in London and raised in Italy, Nisticò has an impressive resume, serving as an expert in Regulatory Affairs at the Medicines Agency of Malta and as a principal investigator at the European Brain Research Institute. He has extensive research experience in various areas of neuropharmacology and has contributed significantly to academia with numerous publications and patents. His expertise extends to his involvement in European initiatives and committees, showcasing his leadership and competence in the field. 

STRATEGIC ISSUES
DEFENSE
Italy Doubles Arms Exports, Becoming Third Largest Global Supplier

According to data from SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), Italy has nearly doubled its arms exports, positioning itself as the third-largest global supplier, surpassing the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the United States remains firmly atop the list of arms exporting countries, accounting for 42% of the global arms trade, with a 17% increase compared to the previous five years. France has overtaken Russia to become the second-largest arms exporter globally, while China‘s focus on domestic production has led to a decline in its arms exports.

Ukraine, following the Russian invasion in 2022, has emerged as the largest arms importer in Europe and the fourth-largest globally. SIPRI forecasts that European arms imports will remain high, particularly due to orders for high-level platforms such as combat aircraft and helicopters.

Italy’s significant increase in arms exports (86%) places it at 4.3% of the global defense market, ranking closely with Germany and China. Most of Italy’s exports are directed to the Middle East, including Qatar, Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, and Turkey. Italy also contributes significantly to Norway, Brazil, and France, supplying 18% of the latter’s weapon systems.

DIPLOMACY
Meloni Appoints Belloni as G7 Sherpa

Giorgia Meloni has instigated a significant shift in diplomatic strategy at Palazzo Chigi, appointing Ambassador Elisabetta Belloni as the new sherpa for the Presidency of the Council for both the G7 and G20 summits. This decision, announced by the premier herself, adds to Belloni’s already pivotal role as the head of the Department of Information Security (DIS), which oversees intelligence services coordination.

Elisabetta Belloni’s new role encompasses coordinating all diplomatic activities surrounding the G7, with Italy holding the presidency this year, culminating in the political event scheduled for June 14-15 in Puglia. This decision marks a departure from the previous sherpa, Ambassador Luca Ferrari, who will now head the Italian diplomatic mission in Israel.

Belloni’s appointment is interpreted by some as Meloni’s desire for a more politically oriented figure to oversee Italy’s diplomatic engagements, particularly within the G7 framework. However, concerns have been raised regarding the potential ramifications of Belloni’s appointment. Some suggest that her more politically charged role may overshadow Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, both in terms of political influence and media attention. Additionally, Belloni’s appointment may serve as a direct channel for Meloni to interact with the offices of the Farnesina, given Belloni’s extensive experience as Secretary General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Italy's Strategy in Lebanon

The visit of the Prime Minister to Lebanon presents a valuable opportunity to formulate policies on various fronts, including the Mattei Plan, energy, combating migration, and providing assistance to Gaza. Central to Italy’s approach is its role within the Mediterranean, with a focus on strengthening multilevel dialogue within the G7 framework and addressing ongoing crises with solidarity and expertise.

Giorgia Meloni‘s meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati aligns with Italy’s multifaceted approach in the Mediterranean. This approach aims to bolster dialogue and action at various levels while structuring Italian responses to open crises, offering solidarity and expertise, which Italy has consistently provided during delicate moments such as those currently unfolding in Gaza and the Red Sea. Today’s summit, which follows previous meetings in Dubai and Rome, underscores the importance of addressing the Middle East crisis comprehensively. Meloni aims to analyze the Lebanese and regional situations to prevent escalation along the Israel-Lebanon border. 

The Prime Minister visited the Millevoi base in Shama, southern Lebanon, to meet with the Italian contingent of UNIFIL and MIBIL. Italy maintains one of the largest contingents in southern Lebanon, tasked with monitoring tensions between Israel and Lebanon.

President Mattarella's Visit to Ghana and Ivory Coast

President Sergio Mattarella’s recent visit to Ghana and Ivory Coast culminated in a focus on education and technical training, aiming to foster opportunities for labor exchange between Italy and the African countries. Accompanied by his daughter Laura and Deputy Foreign Minister Edmondo Cirielli, President Mattarella visited the Don Bosco Training Center in Ashaiman to launch the “Ghana” project. This initiative aims to integrate foreign personnel into Italian companies through professional and civic-linguistic training programs. The partnership between Confindustria and the Salesians represents a virtuous cycle, addressing the demand for certain professional profiles and providing a pathway for foreign students to enter Italian companies. 

President Mattarella emphasized Ghana‘s exemplary democracy, which serves as a model for other African countries. However, he also alluded to challenges in the broader African context, such as the democratic instability in the Sahel region, particularly highlighted by recent events in Niger. This geopolitical shift underscores the evolving alliances and balances in the Sahel, including strengthened ties with Russia, potentially reshaping the region’s geopolitics and alliances. 

ECONOMY & FINANCE
Silicon Box's Investment in Italy

Singaporean company Silicon Box is set to invest €3.2 bln in Italy to establish a semiconductor manufacturing facility, marking a significant milestone for European semiconductor production. The plant, slated for construction in northern Italy, potentially in Piedmont, Lombardy, or Veneto, will be the first of its kind in the European Union. Silicon Box specializes in chiplet design and integration technologies, which involve small autonomous processor units that collectively form a microchip.

The announcement of the investment was made by Silicon Box CEO Byung Joon Han, along with Minister of Enterprises Adolfo Urso, during a meeting at Palazzo Piacentini. The Italian plant will enable the advancement of artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and connected mobility technologies, aligning with both Italy’s microelectronics strategy and the European Chips Act.

Once fully operational, the facility is expected to create 1600 direct job opportunities, in addition to indirect employment opportunities related to its construction and integration into the national value chain. Operational costs over fifteen years are estimated to be around €4 bln.

However, construction will not commence until approval is obtained from the European Commission, which is likely considering the Commission’s support for the establishment of first-of-a-kind facilities within the EU under the Chips Act. Silicon Box considers Italy as its top choice for global expansion, anticipating that the new facility will serve as a catalyst for further investments and innovations in the country. Minister Urso previously mentioned Italy’s readiness to offer €4.75 bln in state aid to attract foreign chip producers, including discussions with companies like TSMC and MEMC Electronic Materials.

Established in 2021, Silicon Box currently operates a semiconductor packaging facility worth $2 bln in Singapore. In January, the company announced a $200 mln funding round, raising its valuation above $1 bln. The Italian investment aligns with Italy’s microelectronics strategy. Italy’s microelectronics strategy includes the National Fund for Microelectronics, supplemented by additional funds from the new budget law. These resources will stimulate the development of the national semiconductor supply chain, from research to manufacturing. Additionally, Italy’s involvement in European microelectronics projects underscores its commitment to advancing semiconductor technologies at the continental level.

Italy's Growth Slows at the Beginning of 2024

Italy’s growth momentum has slowed in early 2024, with services showing a moderate increase and the industrial sector stabilizing. According to the revision by ISTAT, Italian growth was stronger in 2023 compared to previous estimates. However, challenges persist, including rising oil prices, persistent high inflation in the Eurozone, and the postponement of rate cuts until June. Weak domestic demand is expected, and uncertainties loom over the outlook for exports of goods. Germany is teetering on the brink of recession, the US industrial sector is slowing down, while China remains ambitious.

Italian inflation remained low and stable in February, but in the Eurozone, inflation remains above the ECB’s target. Consequently, the ECB has kept rates steady, with the Fed expected to do the same. Markets have shifted expectations for the first rate cut to June. While consumer confidence and retail sales show marginal improvements, business investments and credit continue to decline. Despite some positive indicators, uncertainties persist, particularly regarding the stabilization of production in the industrial sector. Services saw a slight increase in January and February, indicating a return to growth, albeit moderate. However, business confidence experienced a setback after several months of improvement.

Emanuele Orsini new President of Confindustria

Emanuele Orsini, an entrepreneur from Emilia-Romagna, has been chosen as the successor to Carlo Bonomi as the president of Confindustria, the association of Italian industrialists and the publisher of the Gruppo 24 Ore. Orsini, designated as president for the upcoming term spanning 2024 to 2028, emerged as the sole candidate during the general council vote after Edoardo Garrone stepped back from the race. He secured 147 out of 173 votes.

The election by the association’s assembly will take place on May 23. Before that, attention is focused on April 18, when Orsini will present his team aimed at selecting vice presidents who represent all aspects of industry. In his initial address to the general council, Orsini emphasized the goal of unity within the association, aiming to eliminate divisions. He brings extensive experience to the role, having served as Vice President of Confindustria since May 2020, with responsibilities including Credit, Finance, and Taxation. Orsini’s background includes leadership roles in various businesses, notably as CEO of Sistem Costruzioni, a company founded by his father, which has evolved into a leading player in wooden construction and industrial logistics.

Italian Government Projects Modest Growth Amid Fiscal Challenges

The Italian Government has released its latest Economic and Financial Document (Def), projecting a 1% GDP growth in 2024, with forecasts of 1.2% in 2025 and 1.1% in 2026. Debt is expected to reach 137.8% of GDP in 2024, with a slight decrease over the subsequent years, while the deficit is anticipated to decline from 4.3% in 2024 to 3% in 2026. 

These figures, although slightly lower than previous estimates, highlight the ongoing economic challenges faced by Italy. The recent impact of the Superbonus incentives on public finances, totaling €218 billion, has significantly contributed to increased deficit levels. The government faces pressure to address these fiscal challenges, especially in light of impending European Union scrutiny and credit rating agency evaluations. Measures such as privatizations and the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) are expected to aid in debt management. However, uncertainties remain regarding market reactions and the effectiveness of these strategies in stabilizing Italy’s economic outlook.

ENERGY
Italy's Focus on Rabat: Building Strategic Partnerships

Italy’s attention is turning to Rabat, following its engagements with Tunis and Cairo. This shift signifies a broader strategic approach in the Mediterranean region, particularly in energy initiatives such as the Green Italy-Morocco Corridor. The initiative advances Rome’s sustainable energy agenda but also strengthens commercial ties with Morocco, aligning with the Mattei Plan.

Italy’s presidency of the G7 presents an opportunity to consolidate ties further. Palazzo Chigi has approved feasibility studies for the Green Corridor, a project aiming to streamline the transportation of green hydrogen from Morocco to the port of Trieste. This initiative could establish Trieste as a hub for energy distribution across Central and Eastern Europe. Morocco’s role as a structured partner in migration control and economic collaboration is pivotal for Italy and the Mattei Plan. 

Recent decisions, such as the US approval of missile sales to Morocco, highlight the country’s efforts to enhance its defense capabilities. Additionally, the European Court of Justice’s preliminary affirmation of the validity of the agricultural and fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco sets a positive precedent for future collaborations. Italy’s engagement with Rabat reflects a multifaceted approach, encompassing energy, migration, and economic cooperation. Morocco’s evolving role in regional dynamics positions it as a key partner for Italy and the broader Mediterranean region.

New Owners of Rovigo LNG Terminal: VTTI-IKAV Consortium

VTTI, a Dutch energy storage company, and IKAV, a German asset management group specializing in energy infrastructure, have formed a consortium to acquire the majority stake in Adriatic LNG Terminal, which operates the Rovigo LNG terminal near Porto Viro, Italy. The deal involves buying out ExxonMobil and QatarEnergy’s shares, with ExxonMobil currently holding around 71% and QatarEnergy 22% of Adriatic LNG. Snam, Italy’s gas pipeline network operator, holds 7.3%. Snam remains in Adriatic LNG’s shareholding, with an option to increase its stake, as outlined in their strategic plan until 2027. Following the agreement between current shareholders and the VTTI-IKAV consortium, Snam has 45 days to decide whether and to what extent it will increase its holding.

The Rovigo LNG terminal is crucial for Italy’s liquefied natural gas imports, handling over 8.5 bln cubic meters in 2023, covering more than 50% of Italian imports. With Italy reducing its reliance on Russian natural gas post-war, LNG imports have surged, constituting 23% of total gas imports in February, surpassing Algerian imports at 21%. The terminal’s annual regasification capacity is 9.6 bln cubic meters, meeting around 14% of national gas demand, with plans for a potential increase of 0.5 bln cubic meters annually by 2026.

NATIONAL SECURITY
G7 Digital Summit: Focus on AI and Global Digital Advancement

The G7 Industry, Technology, and Digital Ministerial meeting, chaired by Italian Minister of Enterprises and Made in Italy, Adolfo Urso, took place in Verona at the Palazzo della Gran Guardia. The summit aimed to address key issues in the digital realm, attracting not only G7 representatives but also delegates from South Korea, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates.

The sessions covered various topics, including the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on productivity, efficiency, innovation, and scientific discovery. There was also discussion on the challenges associated with for small and medium-sized enterprises, and the role of quantum technologies in information processing and scientific breakthroughs. Another session focused on ensuring secure and resilient networks, supply chains, and key production factors, highlighting the importance of global connectivity and the role of semiconductors in digital economies and societal resilience.

In the final session, concrete actions to promote global digital advancement, inclusive and sustainable development, and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals were discussed. Regarding collaboration with China in AI algorithm development, Urso expressed a preference for collaboration with countries sharing values, avoiding alignment with specific ideologies or parties. Urso remained cautious on establishing a dedicated authority for AI regulation, indicating ongoing discussions within the Government, and referencing the recently approved AI regulation by the European Parliament.

Italian Government to Issue Text on Artificial Intelligence Soon

Alfredo Mantovano, Undersecretary of State for Security, announced that the Government will soon release a document on Artificial Intelligence (AI). He made this statement at the event ‘Cybersecurity: Opportunities and Challenges for Italian Startups and SMEs’ organized by the National Cybersecurity Agency. It is not yet clear whether it will be a bill or a decree. The Agency has initiated a strategic program to support the creation and development of innovative startups and enhance the results of national research, in line with the national cybersecurity strategy 2022-26. This strategy supports innovation and technological and industrial strengthening of the country, focusing on research valorization and the creation of new technological companies.

Bruno Valensise Appointed as New Director of AISI

Giorgia Meloni has appointed Bruno Valensise as the new director of the Internal Information and Security Agency (AISI). Valensise, currently serving as the deputy director of the Department of Information for Security (DIS), brings extensive experience in the intelligence sector. The decision, effective from April 19, has garnered praise from political figures, emphasizing Valensise’s competence and professionalism. AISI plays a crucial role in safeguarding Italy’s internal security and democratic institutions from various threats, including espionage and terrorism. Valensise’s appointment marks a shift from previous leadership, highlighting the government’s commitment to continuity and expertise in intelligence operations.

STRATEGIC COMPANIES
New Appointments: Alessandro Puliti Confirmed as CEO of SAIPEM, Uncertainty Persists for FS and CDP

Despite uncertainties surrounding upcoming appointments, there is one piece of news emerging from the Ministry of Economy and Finance: the government, ENI, and CDP all agree to confirm Alessandro Puliti as CEO and General Director of SAIPEM for the next three years. However, the choice for the new president remains reserved. Puliti has been acknowledged for his work and it is deemed appropriate for him to continue the work of restructuring and revitalizing the state-owned giant.

Regarding Ferrovie dello Stato, contradictory rumors persist regarding the future CEO. Stefano Donnarumma claims certainty about an agreement reached on his name by Brothers of Italy (FdI) and the League. However, similar assurances were made a year ago for ENEL, which eventually went to Flavio Cattaneo. Institutional investors, on the other hand, prefer the reconfirmation of Luigi Ferraris, considered more “reassuring” in managing the company’s future partial listing on the stock exchange. Finally, barring any surprises, Dario Scannapieco’s confirmation at the helm of CDP (Cassa Depositi e Prestiti) seems likely. His favorable results achieved in the expiring triennium, recently made public, work in his favor in this case.

FINCANTIERI
Fincantieri's Performance in 2023

Fincantieri closed its financial year of 2023 with increasing orders and revenues, yet still operating at a loss. The Italian shipbuilding company headquartered in Trieste reported a net loss of €53 mln, an improvement from the €324 mln loss in 2022. Adjusted operating results, excluding non-recurring items, showed a loss of €7 mln, better than the €108 mln loss in 2022. Revenue rose by 2.8% to €7.65 bln, compared to €7.44 bln in the previous year. Orders amounted to €6.6 bln, marking a 23.9% increase from 2022, especially driven by a significant uptick in offshore segment orders in December. These figures were endorsed by the Board of Directors in March, chaired by General Claudio Graziano. CEO Pierroberto Folgiero described the 2023 results as excellent, surpassing predetermined targets.

Offshore, Special Ships, Systems, Components, and Infrastructure sectors saw revenue increases of 42.5% and 20.1% respectively, compensating for slight decreases in shipbuilding revenue. Shipbuilding contributed 74% (down from 79% in 2022), while Offshore and Special Ships and Systems, Components, and Infrastructure contributed 13% each to total revenues.

Looking ahead to 2024, Fincantieri reaffirms revenue guidance of €8 bln (approximately 4.5% increase) and a margin around 6%, while expecting a financial leverage between 5.5 and 6.5 times EBITDA by the end of 2024, highlighting progress in deleveraging. CEO Pierroberto Folgiero credited the company’s strong financial discipline and operational performance.

ENI
Eni's Strategic Plan 2024-2027: Embracing Energy Transition for Profitability and Sustainability

Eni unveiled its new strategic plan for the period 2024-2027. CEO Claudio Descalzi pledged that Eni would become “even more profitable, better diversified, and with stronger fundamentals, enhancing shareholder remuneration. In conclusion, we believe that the energy transition can be achieved if it generates adequate and sustainable returns.”

Eni’s objective is to adapt to the ongoing energy transition, gradually moving away from fossil fuels while maximizing the value and expertise of its traditional oil and gas business. The company promises financial discipline, “robust” economic returns (including through “selective” mergers and acquisitions), and the development of new activities related to ecological transition but “characterized by a high profitability profile.” Compared to the previous strategic plan, Eni plans to reduce investments while increasing shareholder remuneration through dividends.

Eni expects to generate a free cash flow of approximately €13.5 bln in 2024 and €62 bln over the entire plan period until 2027. Net investments will amount to €27 bln in total, averaging €7 bln annually, representing a 20% decrease compared to the concluded strategic plan in 2023. Eni aims to achieve a reduction in corporate costs by €1.8 bln within the strategic plan

.

Eni emphasizes that carbon capture and storage technologies are “a growth factor in the energy transition journey.” Eni plans to have a CO2 injection capacity of over 15 mln tonnes per year by 2030. The Callisto Mediterranean CO2 Network project for carbon capture and storage, developed by Eni, Snam, and French company Air Liquide, between Ravenna and Marseille, has been included in the list of European common interest projects and will have access to the Connecting Europe Facility fund.

Regarding biorefining capacity, Eni plans to double it by 2026 to three mln tonnes annually, reaching five mln tonnes by 2030. Eni states that its agribusiness will grow to represent over 35% of the feedstock processed in Eni’s Italian biorefineries by 2027. As for Plenitude, the subsidiary handling gas and electricity sales, Eni targets an EBITDA of €2 bln by 2027 (more than double compared to last year). Renewable energy capacity installed will surpass 8 GW by 2027, up from 4 GW this year.

LEONARDO
Leonardo's Vision for 2024-2028: Strengthening Core Business and Embracing Space Alliance

Roberto Cingolani has outlined the key points of the company’s new industrial plan for the period 2024-2028. The plan focuses on reinforcing the core aircraft business, rationalizing the portfolio (by at least 20%), enhancing competitiveness, and forging new alliances. Key highlights of the plan include updating core platforms such as the Eurofighter combat aircraft and accelerating new programs like Gcap and Aics. Cooperation within Europe, particularly in the terrestrial sector like the Mbt program with Knds, a Franco-German consortium, is crucial. Collaboration with Fincantieri, from the Orizzonte Sistemi Navali joint venture to recent agreements for underwater domain, is emphasized. Additionally, the integration of cybersecurity and space is planned, promoting the space alliance with Thales and establishing a new space division. 

In the space sector, Leonardo plans to establish a space cloud and consolidate Telespazio, emphasizing its commitment to space activities. The space alliance with Thales holds significant potential and may involve acquisitions. Private investments in space are expected to increase, reflecting a transition towards greater private engagement, akin to trends in the United States.

The plan aims for total orders of €105 bln, revenues of €95 bln, double-digit profitability by 2026, and a doubling of free operating cash flow to €1.35 bln by the end of the plan compared to 2023.

PRYSMIAN
Prysmian's Decision to Close Battipaglia Plant Raises Questions

Prysmian is planning to close its Battipaglia plant in Campania, which produces optical fiber. The decision, attributed to high energy costs and choices made by Italian telecommunications operators, has sparked criticism from the company and trade unions. The decision was recently communicated to the Ministry of Enterprises, the Campania Region, AGCOM, and unions FEMCA, FILCTEM, UILTEC, and UGL. Despite revenues exceeding €15 bln, Prysmian cites the need to rationalize production due to unfavorable market conditions.

Discussions with stakeholders have been ongoing, with the possibility of maintaining operations until April 30 to facilitate the transition to a new entity. Three companies have reportedly shown interest, although their identities remain undisclosed. The intention to close the Battipaglia site has been debated for two years due to sustained losses. Previously, unions criticized the national tender for optical fiber, alleging a bias towards imported, lower-quality products over Prysmian’s high-quality fiber.

SNAM
Financial Results of Snam for 2023: Resilience Amidst Volatility

Snam released its financial results for 2023, described by CEO Stefano Venier as “solid” and achieved “within a still volatile and uncertain global context.” Owned partially by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) through CDP Reti, with a 31.3% stake, Snam saw total revenues of €3.8 bln in 2023, a 16.8% increase from 2022. This growth was attributed to regulated revenue growth from investments, output-based incentives, and contributions from the energy efficiency business, particularly in residential sectors, which saw a 59% increase. 

Investments for 2023 amounted to €2.1 bln, with notable expenses including €331 mln for the acquisition of the BW Singapore regasification vessel and €410 mln for a 49.9% stake in SeaCorridor, a joint venture with Eni managing gas pipelines between Italy and Algeria.

Snam’s activities toward energy transition include Renovit, a platform with CDP Equity for energy efficiency, and Bionerys, a wholly-owned subsidiary focused on biogas and biomethane development. Two decarbonization initiatives, the Callisto Mediterranean CO2 Network for carbon capture and storage in the Mediterranean, and the South H2 Corridor for hydrogen transport between Italy, Austria, and Germany, have been designated as European Projects of Common Interest.

TIM
Tensions Rise as Tim Calls Out Merlyn to Consob 

Ahead of Telecom Italia’s upcoming board renewal assembly on April 23, tensions escalate between the current management, led by Pietro Labriola, backed by ISS, and the challengers from Merlyn. Tim has requested a rectification from Merlyn and Umberto Paolucci, the candidate president of the opposing list, regarding statements made in a recent interview. Tim claims these statements, deemed “price-sensitive,” are either untrue or misleading. Tim has notified Consob and instructed its legal team accordingly. Merlyn, in response, emphasizes its stance on concentrating on enterprise and TechCo business, exiting Brazil and consumer sectors, and planning an alternative strategy if delays occur in executing the NetCo deal. Meanwhile, ISS aligns with the management list, urging support for Labriola and voting against other rival lists. 

SOURCES
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