MILAN (Reuters Breakingviews) - Italy looks likely to have made a narrow escape in its fiscal battle with the European Commission. The country’s anti-austerity government is likely to avoid damaging EU action thanks to a last-minute budget windfall. That means Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will not have to embark on politically unpalatable belt-tightening in 2019. But the coalition’s plans for big tax cuts next year mean that tempers may flare up again soon.
MILAN (Reuters Breakingviews) - The European Union is sacrificing its own market principles in a diplomatic row with Switzerland. By cancelling Zurich’s status as an approved stock market from Monday, the EU Commission is undermining its objectives for making equity trading cheaper and more transparent. Swiss bourse SIX will enjoy higher volumes, but European investors will have fewer places to buy and sell stocks like Nestlé and Roche Holding.
MILAN (Reuters Breakingviews) - Switzerland can afford to gamble on its own European Union referendum. Fear of a popular backlash is preventing the Alpine nation from signing a deal to simplify EU relations and gain better market access. But Bern has little leverage over its biggest trading partner and polls suggest most voters are supportive. Besides, a "no" vote would not leave it much worse off.
MILAN (Reuters Breakingviews) - Saipem made its name building drills and pipelines for fossil-fuel giants like Saudi Aramco. CEO Stefano Cao visits Breakingviews to discuss how climate change is pushing the company into greener projects – and how tech challenges and a need to protect margins will drive M&A.
MILAN, PARIS (Reuters Breakingviews) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ marriage proposal to Renault lovingly delivers gifts to everyone in the wedding party. The Italian-American group’s planned tie-up with its European rival should keep partner Nissan Motor warm, give the French state a graceful exit and give the Agnelli family and other Fiat shareholders a chunk of cash. It also promises to unleash a 5 billion euro bonanza of cost savings that will put industry rivals on notice.
PARIS/MILAN (Reuters Breakingviews) - Less than a year after his untimely death, Sergio Marchionne’s dream is coming true. The former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss, whose 2015 palimpsest on the need for consolidation shook the car industry, must be blessing from above the automaker’s talks with European rival Renault. Faced with a future where technology - perhaps more than brand power or engineering prowess - may determine whose wheels dominate the roads, second string operators like Renault and Fiat must lock arms.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - BlackRock’s U-turn on a daring Italian bank rescue puts Rome back on the hook. The world’s biggest asset manager on Thursday confirmed it had dropped plans to join a 720 million euro rescue for ailing bank Carige. The abrupt decision after months of discussions is a belated admission the project was too risky. That is bad news for Italy’s taxpayers.
ROME (Reuters Breakingviews) - Italy irked the United States by backing Beijing’s grand infrastructure plan. The country needs to improve ties with the People’s Republic to sell more wine and other exports, says Rome’s top China expert. Overcoming trade barriers will, however, require an EU team effort.
LONDON/MILAN (Reuters Breakingviews) - Deutsche Bank boss Christian Sewing has just received an unexpected leg-up from his rival Jean Pierre Mustier, who runs Italy’s UniCredit. Both men are competing for the affections of Commerzbank. The arrival of another suitor puts extra pressure on the German government to back a domestic marriage.
MILAN/LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles might gain from playing an M&A waiting game. Already the subject of interest from Peugeot of France, the $24 billion carmaker could face a bid from a merged Renault-Nissan, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday. Such a deal would be tricky and take time. But patience could give FCA better options to solve its tech and Asian headaches.