Economist sez: 'Silvio Berlusconi is unfit to lead Italy'

MILAN — Silvio Berlusconi’s media empire Fininvest said Friday it will take legal action against British weekly mag the Economist, partly owned by Pearson, over a front-page story about the media tycoon turned politician, his businesses and his legal misadventures.

In a statement distributed Friday, Fininvest said that the article contained “a series of old accusations” that were “an insult to truth and intelligence.”

The cover of the Economist published April 27 shows a full-page portrait of Berlusconi, in a Mussolini-style posture, with the headline “Silvio Berlusconi is unfit to lead Italy.”

The media tycoon, leader of the Forza Italia political party and one of the richest men in the world, is expected to be appointed prime minister after a general election May 13.

The article discussed Berlusconi’s leadership attributes and a potential conflict with his business interests, which range from television to publishing, advertising, banking and a soccer team. It also examined Berlusconi’s legal misadventures.

Fininvest, which has a controlling stake in Italy’s largest publicly quoted TV company, Mediaset, did not say whether it would file suit in the Italian or British courts.

A spokesman for the Economist said the magazine “stands strongly by the story.”

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