Sweden’s Electrolux is in private talks with Midea Group regarding a potential acquisition by the Chinese appliance giant. The Italian government is ready to make use of its so-called Golden Power regulations to protect assets of strategic importance to the country, as stated by Luca Ciriani, Minister for Relations with Parliament.
- He clarified that the matter was discussed with Adolfo Urso, Minister of Business: “I can reiterate that we have no confirmation and no news from Electrolux of a willingness to sell the company to multinationals or foreign companies, particularly the Chinese,” he said.
- Electrolux has 6,000 employees in six factories in Italy.
- In May, the Italian government exercised its Golden Power regulations concerning the merger operation between Whirlpool EMEA and the Turkish group Arçelik, setting prescriptions to safeguard technological assets, production, and employment levels. The procedure involves four plants in Italy, with over 4,600 employees. The transaction is currently subject to European antitrust proceedings.
Last week, the Italian government imposed several restrictions on Pirelli’s biggest shareholder, Sinochem, to block the Chinese government’s access to sensitive chip technology.
- This decision appears to have displeased the Chinese Communist Party. “Italy urged not to generalize ‘national security’ concept after Pirelli move” is the headline of an article in the Global Times, a party’s propaganda newspaper.
- Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute of Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times that the local tiremaking industry in Italy is so mature that there are no technical security issues, let alone threats to information security.
- “Any move that undermines bilateral relations will directly affect the real interests of both countries, experts noted, adding that there is no need for European countries to give up opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefits due to paranoid hype,” the article ends.
The moment is particularly critical for Italy-China relations. Italy is mulling whether to exit the Belt and Road Initiative altogether – and although Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has indicated she is leaning towards dropping out, she has remarked that talks are still ongoing and no decision has been made yet.
- The government’s choice on Pirelli is highly significant, as it could indicate what kind of approach it will implement with a series of other China-related dossiers. Among them is the one concerning CDP Reti, which manages equity investments in infrastructure and utilities companies Snam, Italgas and Terna, and whose 35% is in the hands of the Chinese public giant State Grid Corporation of China.