John Elkann (8 Viewers)

ReBeL

The Jackal
Jan 14, 2005
22,869
#1
Well, I think we have to know who's leading our ship right now...

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All in the Fiat family: Agnelli heir aims to reinvigorate legacy



TURIN, Italy -- John Elkann is heir apparent of the Agnelli family, one of Europe's most-storied industrial dynasties. The 30-year-old grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli, he holds the title of vice chairman of the Fiat group, maker of such items as Ferraris and farm equipment. Like his grandfather and great uncle, he married a noblewoman.

But as Mr. Elkann is poised to move into the driver's seat at the 107-year-old icon, the European model of family capitalism espoused by his clan is struggling to endure. Financial markets have become impatient with family-dominated companies, which sometimes put dynastic interests first and occasionally have murky corporate-governance practices. There is also increased skepticism that companies controlled by Europe's grand families can produce top-flight managers.

Over lunch at the headquarters of IFIL SpA, the Agnelli family holding company of which he is also vice chairman, Mr. Elkann brushes aside these concerns, insisting instead that the family's role at Fiat, founded by his great-great grandfather, has historically brought great benefits to the company. "As a family we have always seen it as our role to guarantee stability for Fiat. That's what my grandfather tried to do."

Yet the question of how much power families should exert is a pressing one in Europe. According to Guido Corbetta, a professor specializing in family-business strategy:confused2: at Milan's Bocconi University, about 40 percent of companies on the continent have passed control from one generation of family managers to another. On the Italian stock market, more than 60 percent of all publicly traded companies are controlled by families.

Some families are determined to stick with the old model. Hermes International Chief Executive Patrick Thomas, appointed earlier this year as the first nonfamily member to head the French luxury-fashion house, is running the company until a family member from the next generation is ready to take over. Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman of French retail and fashion conglomerate PPR SA, last year took over at the company his father, Francois Pinault, founded.

Others are cutting the umbilical cord. The chairman of Luxottica Group SpA, the Milan eyewear maker, last year passed over his son to name an outsider as chief executive. At French tire maker Michelin SA, it is unclear what role the members of the founding family will play in the company after the sudden death in a boating accident last month of fourth-generation manager Edouard Michelin.

At Fiat, as financial troubles have created pressures in the marketplace, Mr. Elkann is committed to maintaining the family legacy. The Agnellis own 30 percent of the Fiat group through IFIL.

Soft-spoken and reserved, Mr. Elkann exudes little of the flair for which his grandfather was famous. "The important thing I have learned from my grandfather is to be able to adapt to the times you live in," he says. Toward that end, he says he has responded to calls for greater transparency by opening up Fiat's board to more outside directors and creating clearer lines of responsibility.

Historically, the heads of industrial families, such as Mr. Elkann's grandfather or Reinhard Mohn of Bertelsmann AG publishing group in Germany, never had to confront those issues. Their prominent role in society made them guarantors of a sort of social compact with governments and workers. Investment might be directed to a certain area or a factory spared in order to maintain their social standing.

Some argue that the model has served Europe poorly. "The sooner we get rid of family capitalism the better off we all are," says Umberto Mosetti, a corporate-governance expert at the University of Siena and president of shareholder adviser Deminor.

When markets were regional, says Mr. Mosetti, families could finance their businesses through cash flow and loans from friendly local banks. As markets went global, large companies needed to go to capital markets to fuel expansion. Family-controlled firms were often ill-prepared. Something similar happened at Fiat. When competitors from Asia entered the European market, Fiat was caught flat-footed and lost market share; it has been trying to recover ever since.

Mr. Mosetti says family capitalism often breeds complicated ownership schemes. The Agnelli family maintains control of Fiat through three separate holding companies. Mr. Mosetti argues that these arrangements often lead to poor corporate governance which can make it more difficult to attract outside capital to finance expansion.

In the Agnelli family tradition, Mr. Elkann, after early schooling in Paris, studied engineering in the company's home town of Turin. During the summers, he was rotated through different Fiat business units, and discreetly clocked time on the assembly line, where most factory workers didn't realize that they were laboring alongside the heir. As a young graduate, he spent several years honing his business skills at General Electric Co., where he crossed paths with the legendary chairman, Jack Welch.

When Mr. Elkann rejoined the family business in 2002, at age 26, Fiat was facing its greatest crisis. "I'd say there was a certain sense of responsibility in that I thought I needed to go back to see if I could help out," he says. His grandfather, considered the public face of Fiat at age 81, died several months later. A consortium of banks put together a $3.76 billion convertible loan to keep the company afloat.

Mr. Elkann threw himself into the unpleasant business of selling a portfolio of assets that his family had spent years assembling. "It was tough, very tough," he recalls. Among the properties that the family sold off were stakes in Club Med, legendary French winery Chateau Margaux, and the La Rinascente SpA department-store chain. Fiat sold its financing arm, an insurance company and other noncore assets.

Mr. Elkann says he was too busy to worry whether Fiat would pull through. "I was 26 years old. Under these circumstances you don't really ask yourself that kind of question. You spend little time asking yourself questions," he says. "You just concentrate on doing your best in a difficult situation."

With Fiat on the ropes, the family decided to invest $313 million of its own money in a capital increase. More than three years later, Fiat is in the midst of a convincing turnaround led by independent-minded Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne. Like Mr. Marchionne, CEOs at Fiat traditionally have been nonfamily members, usually reporting to Agnelli-family chairmen. Fiat's current chairman is Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, a longtime Agnelli family loyalist and chairman of Ferrari and Italy's powerful business lobby, Confindustria.

As Mr. Elkann assumes the leadership role within the family, he is aware that the Agnellis no longer hold the unassailable status they once did. He is trying to clean up a match-fixing scandal involving Juventus Football Club SpA, the family's successful soccer team. Prosecutors allege that Juventus executives repeatedly conditioned referees to give the team favorable treatment. Team officials say they are cooperating with authorities.

The match-fixing scandal is the latest of several episodes that have brought the clan unwanted attention. Last year, Mr. Elkann's younger brother, Lapo, who had been serving as an executive at Fiat Auto, survived a drug overdose at the apartment of a transvestite, a story that dominated Italian newspaper headlines for days. Mr. Elkann declined to comment on the episode.

Mr. Elkann led the appointment of a new board and management at the club, as well as new ethical guidelines. "The family image is very much linked to Juventus, and so it was very important to address it," he says.

Prosecutors in Turin have opened a probe into possible insider trading regarding a complicated equity swap performed by several Agnelli-controlled companies. The swap allowed IFIL to purchase Fiat shares at a favorable price and thereby maintain the family's 30 percent stake, which had risked being diluted by a capital increase. No charges have been filed. Mr. Elkann says the share purchase "is intended as a clear vote of confidence in the Fiat management and its plans."

These incidents have thrust Mr. Elkann more into public eye. He concedes he is uncomfortable in assuming the high-profile role that his grandfather played for so many years. "I mean, I'm 30 years old," he says. "Respect is earned, not inherited."

By Gabriel Kahn
The Wall Street Journal
Monday, June 26, 2006
 
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ReBeL

The Jackal
Jan 14, 2005
22,869
#11
Part 1


John Elkann: "Juve is not for sale"


The vice president of Fiat speaks for the first time after the relegation of Juventus.
He starts by assuring the fans and the shareholders about their beloved club. Sitting at his office, John Elkann draws a future that has already begun from the ruins of Calciopoli. A nice squad that emerges from the hell of the scandal.

"If we had really decided to sell Juventus, was it a better occasion? We would have profited some money, but Instead we accepted the challenge and we put in site a large project that was our reaction for all the diffculties. We're willing to continue until reaching our objectives".

Question: At the dramatic moment of the scandal, you have chosen to start a new page in the club's history and you payed a very high price because of that scandal. You started by saying that Juve will commit honesty. DO you think that all those troubles were worth it?
John: "Well, actually, Juve is the only party to pay. We were the scapegoat after everything that was emerged from the interceptions. With our reply, we recovered the identity. And I am sure that it was worth it. I think everybody in the football should choose the same path we chose".

Question: But it would make identical approaches everywhere?
John: "Certainly, yes, even if all always improve".
 
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ReBeL

The Jackal
Jan 14, 2005
22,869
#12
Part 2


Question: It is said that current Juve is a business more than being a toy of your family. What do you think??
John: "Yes. It's not a toy, Juventus is a business and we treat it like that. The emotional part is in the story of the club and this can be seen well in the stadium, in the Olympico there is a very attractive atmosphere".

Question: But are you a Juve fan like your grandfather?
John: "For me and for a big, very big part of my family, Being a Juve fan was breathed when our grandfather was there. We are all very satisfied with the success of the club. For the remainder, Juve is a business and, like all the businesses, has its plans of development and evolution".

Question: This means that you are ready to put your hand in your wallet to rebuild a squad competing for the scudetto? Afew days ago, Del Piero has asked you to make a bigger effort for that.
John: "Well, it is positive that Serie A is becoming closer and closer. And there is no doubt that Juventus, if it was in Serie A, it would have been already between the top clubs".

Question: Is it imaginable that you sign a check in the same way your grandfather did to buy a champion?
John: "We live other times now. Today, it pleases me more to think of a new Bettega, to the young boys. It is important to take care of our young primavera players that already made their debut in the first squad: for example, the talks about calling both Paro and Marchisio to the national team. Our ambition is to rear champions, and there is a possibility to build schools for football in England and America. And also in Italy we have in mind a big work with the schools".
 
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ReBeL

The Jackal
Jan 14, 2005
22,869
#13
Part 3


Question: Mentioning the players grown here: could your captain, Del Piero, become the Boniperti of the future?
John: "For now, he still plays. We had no doubts that he would stay in Juve. He is a great talent, he always remained close to his teammates and he also is married to a lady from Turin.:confused: Del Piero is the example of what the football player today unfortunately lacks. Same thing, Ciro Ferrara: arrived from Napoli, but now his house is Turin".:confused2

Will you succeed to keep Buffon?
John: "Yes, we are in a position to stop him leaving. What counts is that it will be a shared decision. Camoranesi, in the end was pleased that he remained, and he expresses it also on the pitch. Going back to Buffon, we hope he wins the Golden Ball because he deserves it".

What do you think of assigining the scudetto that was taken from Juventus to Inter?
John: "It was not won on the field. They could also not accept it. After all, I do not believe that the Inter fan is very pleased with a scudetto gained in this way. The scudetto would have been better not to be assigned. As for inter, I wish them the best because they can win the current one on the field".

Question: Who will build Juve in Serie A? It is not believed that Bettega and Alessio Secco can follow what was achieved in the period of Moggi and Giraudo?
John: "The influence of Moggi is absolutely under zero. Bettega is a special consultant of Blanc, but has no office in the club. The sporting decisions will be the mission of three people: Secco, Blanc and Deschamps".

Question: You have removed Moggi, but we still find him on television and newspapers and almost always he talks about Juventus.
John: "Well, I don't think he will last for a long time working like that".

Question: What about the idea to claim the damages of Moggi and Giraudo?? Is it still resisted or was it shelved?
John: "It is now in the hand of the legal evaluation. It is necessary to see how the trial will evolve".

Question: How much time and how many money does Juve want to compete for the scudetto?
John: "Inter is the example that proves that money isn't the decisive factor. What counts are the justifications: and it was showed by the national team's victory in the World Cup".
 
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ReBeL

The Jackal
Jan 14, 2005
22,869
#16
Part 4 (The Last One)


Question: It is believed that without Juventus the Serie A is not the same.
John: "Without us it lost 20% of interest. It is a weird absence that is felt like an anomaly more by the non-juventini, the rivals that were used to find someone always to criticize".

Question: And yet this Juve, sent to Serie B by the judges, is more loved than before.
John: "It is not an issue of pity. The truth is that Juventus, and not since today, is the most popular club in a lot of towns and that's not only in Italy. Then, it is clear that in Rimini or Crotone if their home clubs win they are pleased, but if Juve wins, there is a party"

Question: Do you agree with your brother, Lapo that Juventus of Moggi and Giraudo was lacking its "smile",?
John: "Yes, I agree".

Question: In the globalized football, there seem many mercenaries. On the other hand, Juve seems to have its dimension of Turin.
John: "Yes. The Olympic Games showed all of the leap of our town, and its enormous potential of enthusiasm. Juventus wants to work in this context, creating occasions and initiatives. I think of the young fans and of the educational value of the sport. But I think also of the magnificent party organized recently for the birthday of Juventus, before the match with Brescia. It is the confirmation that the roots are important: today the clubs are crowded with many foreign players".

Question: Between all the matches you saw together with your grandfather, is there anyone that you remember more than the others?
"I won't forget the night of Rome, the Champions League's final against Ajax".
 
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ReBeL

The Jackal
Jan 14, 2005
22,869
#17
I hope the translation was good...

I couldn't translate this one about Capello, by the way::faq1:

Ma c'è una cosa che non ripeterebbe?
"Sì. Con Capello, per esempio, si poteva fare diversamente. C'è stata un'incertezza da parte nostra: non ha pagato. Ci si poteva salutare subito".
 

RAMI¹⁰

★ ★ ★
Aug 22, 2006
21,269
#18
ReBeL said:
I hope the translation was good...

I couldn't translate this one about Capello, by the way::faq1:

Ma c'è una cosa che non ripeterebbe?
"Sì. Con Capello, per esempio, si poteva fare diversamente. C'è stata un'incertezza da parte nostra: non ha pagato. Ci si poteva salutare subito".
It was great...well done :tup:
 

Gep

The Guv'nor
Jun 12, 2005
13,520
#19
We need this slut to be able to fund our ass's WHEN we get bact to SerieA. Its now when we need it. Hope he shows enough passion about the club in the way he has passion about his frigging hair do.:smoke:
 

Cuti

The Real MC
Jul 30, 2006
13,517
#20
ReBeL said:
I hope the translation was good...

I couldn't translate this one about Capello, by the way::faq1:

Ma c'è una cosa che non ripeterebbe?
"Sì. Con Capello, per esempio, si poteva fare diversamente. C'è stata un'incertezza da parte nostra: non ha pagato. Ci si poteva salutare subito".
but I can! lol

But is there something which you would not repeat?
"Yes. With Capello, for example, we could have done differently. There was an indecision on our part: he didnt pay. He could have say bye straight away".

Not sure about the last sentence but that is what he said
 

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