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Real estate spin-off coming soon in Bologna

29 May, Il Sole 24 Ore

“Conspiracy of silence” is the word that unions and politicians use when talking about the current situation of the expo in Bologna. The Board of Directors of the district of Michelino gathered yesterday to approve the financial statement, which was anticipated as excellent, with a production value increased by over 6 points and 120 million euro and an Ebitda over 20 million. The Board was also to vote on the decision whether to split the company into two divisions, one for property management and the other for event organisation. There are also rumours about a possible listing on the stock exchange or a merger with the Milan Expo. Either way, the boards didn’t make any disclosure after the meeting. The president Gianpiero Calzolari, appointed last July to appease the shareholders divided on the governance and capitalisation, didn’t make any comment, but he announced a conference for tomorrow to present the financial statement.

The bad mood also prevails in the Town Hall, where Virginio Meroleais the first shareholder of Bologna Fiere with a 24% stake (the sum of the shares held by the Municipality and the Metropolitan City). The City Councillor Piergiorgio Licciardello decided to call the high management to clarify the situation: “We’ve read the surprising news these days – commented Licciardello – I requested to access the files, but the answer was negative. Fiera claimed the privacy of the Board of Directors meetings.”

“The silence from Bologna Fiere is terrifying – says Gian Luca Taddia from the local trade union Filcams Cgil – we had the last official meeting with the company 20 days ago on the matters concerning the organisation of the works. Everything else is just assumptions by the local press: from the potential spin-off of the company to the potential alliance with Milan. We’re against both the operations: the former because would trigger real estate speculations, the latter because Bologna is destined to be subdued by Milan concerning numbers”. The feeling is that Bologna Fiere wants to avoid debates and polemics on the matter that will be discussed by the members in the June meeting.

Certainly, the alliance with Milan would deny the possibility of a holding for the whole region together with the Rimini and Parma expo as wished by the Bonaccini administration, like the previous administrations. The idea of two twin companies, one owning the properties (provided by the public partners) and the other one holding the management of the area, risks being a deja-vu since. In fact, it was already proposed in 2007, when the expo then guided by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo split up precisely on the decision whether to separate the assets from the activities.

Source: Il Sole 24 Ore

Translator: Cristina Ambrosi

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