Berlusconi’s daughter predicts growth

Fininvest VP sees expansion for Publitalia, value in Mediaset

MONTE CARLO — Addressing a large audience for the first time since becoming Fininvest vice president two years ago, Marina Berlusconi told a convention of plans for expansion.

“Fininvest is betting on growth and development due to the new synergies between all its sectors of activities, from TV to publishing to film, video production and distribution,” the 32-year-old eldest child of media leader Silvio Berlusconi’s five offspring told the yearly gathering of Publitalia, the group’s advertising arm.

“TV company Mediaset and Publitalia will have a central role in the group,” added the woman who is expected to take a more prominent leadership role in the business.

“After Rupert Murdoch offered to buy the majority of Mediaset from Fininvest for $3.3 billion earlier this year — and Fininvest refused — everybody inside and outside the group understood the worth of Mediaset, which already is the most profitable communication company in Europe,” she pointed out.

The daughter, who inherited a strong character, a huge capacity for work and a taste for command from her father, was appointed VP at Fininvest in 1996, but unlike her father is reticent to be public.

Mystery CEO

In the wake of Fininvest CEO Ubaldo Livolsi’s announcement that he will leave the group in the next few weeks, her presence in the group is expected to grow.

Mediaset president Fedele Confalonieri said Tuesday that Fininvest — which controls Mediaset, Publitalia and film company Modusa — has found a new CEO who is “young and efficient” and whose name will be announced soon.

Livolsi will leave Fininvest in October to set up his own merchant-banking business which will work in the fast-growing sectors, including media and telecoms. Livolsi said that Fininvest will be one of his first clients.

Crucial market

Separately in Monte Carlo, Publitalia president and CEO Giuliano Adreani said that the company “will post an impressive 10% increase or even more this year, boosting its advertising sales to about $2.3 billion and is looking to grow aggressively in other European markets and in Germany in particular.”

“Europe is a crucial market, with (a population of) over 300 million,” he said. “As a result of the decision to introduce a single currency and while financial crisis is shaking many international markets in Asia and elsewhere, Europe is the territory for us to invest in, too.”

Publitalia, Europe’s largest TV advertising agency, recently increased its presence in France, Germany, Spain and the U.K., where the company plans to work for its Italian clients and others.

Publitalia’s expansion is strictly linked to the financial and industrial alliances currently being discussed by Mediaset, Germany’s Kirch Gruppe and global tycoon Murdoch, with the financial participation of Saudi prince al Waleed ben Talal.

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