Italy’s billionaire Benetton family plans to boost its stake in Assicurazioni Generali SpA, the country’s biggest insurer, to as much as 2 percent as part of a strategy to increase investments in the financial industry, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Benettons’ investment vehicle, Edizione Srl, which currently owns slightly less than 1 percent of the Trieste-based insurer, has already started to purchase Generali stock on the market, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.
Generali shares gained as much as 2.8 percent in Milan to the highest level since January 2016. The stock was up 1 percent at 4:38 p.m, giving the company a market value of 25.3 billion euros ($31.4 billion).
The Italian family hired former Telecom Italia SpA Chief Executive Officer Marco Patuano in 2016 to design a new strategy for its $13.5 billion investment company. Edizione controls toll-road and airport operator Atlantia SpA, the Autogrill SpA restaurant chain and its struggling namesake apparel company. The acquisition of about 1 percent in Generali would cost the Benettons about 250 million euros at current market prices.
Representatives of Generali and Edizione declined to comment.
The Benettons have been seeking partners for the family’s main business units to expand abroad. Atlantia is fighting to get control of Spanish competitor Abertis Infraestructuras SA while Autogrill mulls M&A options. Edizione was among investors who had expressed interest in buying motorbike maker Ducati Motor Holding SpA from Volkswagen AG last year before VW decided not to proceed with the sale.
Edizione is evaluating acquisitions after boosting its cash pile by 1.3 billion euros with the sale of a majority stake in airport retailer World Duty Free to Dufry AG in 2015
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