Italian family-controlled groups holding Project

Project developed by AIdAF-Alberto Falck Chair of Family Business Strategy within the relationship with Ernst & Young.

The Italian large- and medium-sized businesses are mainly managed by a single family or by a coalition of families. Their usual strategy is articulated in a number of corporate levels and companies. The top level of the group is usually identified as an "industrial holding", which is a holding company that owns the shares of the main other group companies.

The research is a first attempt to identify and analyze the different kinds of industrial holdings that compose the network of Italian medium- and large-sized family businesses. The subject of the research is innovative; first of all because of the wide range of shapes that these holdings can take, secondly because the classical researches do not offer a framework of group structures and a clear overview of the role of the "holdings" in family-owned groups.

The first part of the paper analyzes the features, the control structures and the performances of Italian family large- and medium-sized businesses (with sales exceeding 50 million euros). The second part of the essay deals with the control structures, the leadership patterns, the corporate bodies and the performance of larger family businesses (with sales exceeding one billion euros). The last part of the research offers some reflections on the relationship between the holding company and its subsidiaries, this analysis is based on some interviews of the leaders of the holding company of some of the larger groups.

The research was presented on May 3rd 2012 during a conference at Bocconi University. During this round table the results of the research were analyzed in the light of the growing number of groups that make up a holding company in order to meet the monitoring and strategic requirements.