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MILAN - The moment is mature for Italy to attract more investment from China, a number of professionals said here on Thursday.
Italy needs capitals, and has realized the great potentialities of Chinese investment, said Paolo Panerai, editor in chief and CEO of Italian media group Class Editori, in his opening address to the China Capital Summit in Milan.
The summit, this year in its second edition, was dedicated to "fostering mutual knowledge between Chinese investors and Italian businesses" as a fundamental step to put into practice the huge collaboration potential between the two countries, Panerai said.
The editor, whose group has organized the event supported by local and international partners including Xinhua News Agency, noted China and Italy enjoy a special relation thanks to long-lasting cultural and commercial dialogue, as well as a common millenary history.
Panerai said investors of the fast-developing Asian country are eager to invest in Italy, which is increasingly interested in attracting foreign capitals especially in the current times of economic crisis.
However, despite the moment being "mature," Chinese investment in Italy is still too low especially due to insufficient mutual knowledge in the economic dialogue, he pointed out, adding the Mediterranean country should aim at attracting more Chinese investment with a win-win perspective.
Panerai, who was the first Italian journalist to interview the architect of China's opening-up Deng Xiaoping and since then has strengthened his friendship with the country, noted Chinese companies have significantly grown up also thanks to second generations' more modern approach to business.
"Tuning in" with China's rich culture is fundamental for Italian companies in order to catch precious opportunities, said the editor, whose group has recently signed a multimedia agreement with Xinhua News Agency, and attaches great importance to the Chinese market so as to dedicate to it special programs.
In fact, attracting more Chinese investments is an important objective for Italy during "this phase of excellent development of bilateral relations," said Italy's ambassador in Beijing Attilio Massimo Iannucci in his video address to the conference.
Important steps have been recently made in this direction, he added, as one European visa out of four is now released by Italy, while the Milan Expo 2015 is expected to attract one million Chinese visitors.
Italian excellencies in many key sectors offer a number of opportunities for Chinese fast-developing companies, said various professional at the summit, including Italy country executive and head of corporate investment banking of Bank of America - Merrill Lynch Italy, Luigi Gubitosi, and China International Capital Corporation (CICC) investment banking department managing director Wang Dong.
Integration and synergy in sectors such as research and high technology, energy, communication and financial intermediation can make Italy a platform for Chinese investment in Europe, highlighted Maurizio Tamagnini, the CEO of the Italian Strategic Fund (FSI), a holding company whose strategic controlling shareholder is 70 percent owned by the Finance Ministry and 30 percent by bank foundations.
"Structurally, Italy has fewer companies than France and Germany, but it has excellence points and niche sectors that other countries do not have," he said adding Italian companies should not only sell their products to China but especially attract Chinese investment for common growth.
In this process, noted the general manager of Italy' largest bank Unicredit, Roberto Nicastro, banks play a key role of "distributive platforms" in supporting companies.
For example, he added, Unicredit was strengthening its presence in China through opening new branches as well as "China desks" to support clients in starting and establishing business.
"The contradiction between the Western big market opposed to the Chinese big exporter has been finally overcome," said Giovanni Castellaneta, chairman of SACE, an insurance and financial group supporting the competitiveness and development of Italian companies.
"China is now an expanding economy with a fast-growing consumer class. It is strongly investing in technology innovation and high-quality production, and must be approached with a broadminded and active spirit of internationalization," he said.