Italian Tech defended by Golden Power: 496 files

In 2021 the government was forced to analyze well 496 cases to protect Italian companies from possible attempts to acquire (especially) China. An action allowed by the so-called Golden Power, a package of special powers that since 2012 allows the executive to block or impose conditions on financial transactions relating to strategic sectors. Initially, it could only be triggered in relation to companies in the defense, national security, energy, transport and communications sectors; then the 2021 changes also included food, insurance, health and finance. In summary it is a protection of the interests of the country and the protection can take place in favor of both large companies than SMEs.

According to the last Special Powers Report presented to Parliament by the Undersecretary to the Prime Minister, Roberto Garofoli, of the 496 operations there was a single outright veto. On March 31, 2021, the Draghi government blocked the attempt to acquire the state highway Shenzhen Investment Holdings against 70% of the semiconductor manufacturer LPE SpA..

In general, with the legislation on golden power, even before the pandemic and the war arrived, it was decided to control technologies and manufacturing skills in some sectors, also following the lines drawn by the EU. The loss of manufacturing base is the main problem for our society. The future of our country must be sought by making the culture of manufacturing evolve, because the easy way to consume more and less and produce less and less, outsourcing the difference to others, has led to the now structural crisis we are in, he told Affari & Finance Cesare Pozzi, professor of industrial economics at the University of Foggia and at Luiss.

86% of the notifications concerned the energy, transport and communications sectors, while 10% were for national security and 4% for 5G mobile. After that, out of the 496 cases exposed, 277 did not fall within the scope of the law, in 108 it was decided not to exercise Golden Power, in 67 cases the simplified procedure was triggered because they were intra-group transactions and finally in 26 prescriptions were imposed and conditions.

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Among the most striking examples was the blocking of technology transfer from the robotic industrial controls specialist Robox of Castelletto Sopra Ticino (Novara) in the Chinese style Efort Intelligent Equipment. There was a technical license at stake that would have made it possible passepartout for an increase in share in the company from the current 40% to 49%. Novara founder Roberto Montorsi confirmed the use of the TAR as the intention was only to allow the use of source codes to Chinese partners. In any case, according to the founders, an important investment that would have favored the company was blocked.

Then there was the opposition to the sale of some company branches of Applied Materials Italythe subsidiary of the US group of the same name specializing in equipment, services and software for the production of semiconductor chips for electronics, monitors, smartphones, TVs and solar panels, in Zhejiang Jingsheng Mechanical. The same block that took shape with the vegetable seeds of Verisem to Syngenta (Swiss owned by China). And with 75% of the share capital of the military drone specialist Alpi Aviation Chinese style Mars Information Technology.

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The latest case, which falls within 2022, concerns Faber Industrie, a well-known manufacturer of storage for hydrogen. Again the government blocked the takeover attempt by the Russian Rusatom Gas Tech, which is part of the Russian State Atomic Energy Agency.

According to Professor Pozzi, the use of special powers is correct, but then an industrial policy should be adopted to support strategic companies. You protect them to make them grow, not to wither them.

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