July 5, 2017 / 1:35 PM / 4 months ago

Italians launch 'Made in Italy' fund with sovereign investor backing

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy is tapping foreign investors for a new fund worth an initial 1 billion euros (851.85 million pounds) to help its businesses to expand abroad.

Leading Asian sovereign wealth funds, European banks and insurers, as well as asset managers have already subscribed to the fund which will support “Made in Italy” firms, state-backed Fondo Strategico Italiano (FSI) said in a statement.

“FSI aims to act as a bridge between long-term investors, including wealth funds, and top-notch Italian businesses, providing the firms with fuel for growth and support for entrepreneurs,” FSI CEO Maurizio Tamagnini said.

Foreign contributions so far account for 60 percent of the new fund. It also plans to tap Italian and international pension funds and some industrial groups with the aim of raising the firepower to significantly above the 2 billion euro target.

The move is part of broader efforts by Italy’s state lender Cassa Depositi e Presititi (CDP), which owns FSI, to help Italian businesses acquire the scale needed to compete on international markets.

Small and mid-sized firms, the biggest employers in Italy, are the bedrock of the Italian economy but have struggled to grow at home due to years of sluggish or no economic growth.

Crisis situations are beyond the scope of the new fund, named FSI Mid‐Market Growth Equity Fund, which will mainly purchase minority stakes with limited recourse to debt.

Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Keith Weir

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