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    by Ghileana Galli
    As president of the Comitato Leonardo, Luisa Todini rewards all those who have held high the name of Italian products in the world. However, she also believes it should be the entrepreneurs who start to believe in themselves, their abilities and Italian excellence once more. [caption id="attachment_645" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="We should be Proud of Being Italian "]We should be Proud of Being Italian [/caption] Gianfelice Rocca, president of the Techint Group, the Artoni Group, Gennaro Auricchio S.p.A., the Brunello Cucinelli Group and the Trevi Group, as well as Rita Levi Montalcini and the Italian Civil Defense were all given prizes by the Comitato Leonardo in 2009. Since 1995, and under the patronage of the President of the Republic, the Committee has recognized the entrepreneurs and personalities who have been distinguished for their excellence, innovative ability and considerable international projection in the world, and who have thus contributed to strengthening the image of Italy in the world. Luisa Todini, president of Todini Costruzioni Generali S.p.A. which operates in the large infrastructure sector, has been president of the Comitato Leonardo. We discussed Italian products, the future of the economy and the role of young people, and the tenacity of Italian entrepreneurs with her. Ms Todini, for 15 years the Comitato Leonardo has been rewarding those have held the name of Italian products high around the world. In reality, what are the guiding criteria in the choice of the winners? The winners can be large, medium or small companies, but they all share the ability to excel in their sphere of work and have their excellence recognized and appreciated around the world. Nevertheless, we don’t just judge the ability to ‘do’ but also to ‘be’. We included the prizes we awarded, for example, to Rita Levi Montalcini (Lifetime Achievement Award 2009), the National Acrobatic Team of the Italian Air Force (Lifetime Achievement Award 2008) and the Civil Defense (Special Award 2009) in this direction. On the other hand, the concept of Italian products has been changing and expanding in the last 30 years. Once, it was the synonym for ‘Fashion & Food’ but it must now be extended to sectors like mechanical engineering, logistics and construction and has a series of values which are universally recognized - and are our excellence. Even so, we ourselves often question our role. One example is the recent controversy with Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue America, on the excessive length of the Milanese Fashion Week. Most Italian stylists ‘gave in’ to her requests to have the shows in just four days, which enraged Mario Boselli, president of the National Chamber of Fashion, and caused the Comitato Leonardo to step in on the subject. As we commented in the joint note transmitted with Fondazione Altagamma, we’re convinced that Italian entrepreneurs are tenacious and they have shown this gift on more than one occasion. However, they have to recover that pride, that strong personality which has always been their feature, which enabled them to establish themselves in the world, and enabled Italian products to achieve the role and weight they have today. However, we should not forget that it’s not just the individual, famous stylists working in fashion, but also a supply chain behind them representing 4% of the GDP and employing more than 500,000 people. At the same time, young people must be given the right amount of space, as they will be the great stylists of tomorrow. Talking about young people, you advised them to do two things in a recent interview - learn English well and gain experience abroad. Absolutely. If, on one hand, English is the language of business, and is essential if you’re working in international markets, I also believe that experience abroad is fundamental. It helps growth and opening - and a return to Italy with new competences. Mobility - physical and mental, professional and cultural - is an indispensable value, in my opinion. Despite the difficult world economic situation, the Todini group has continued to grow. What do you think are the factors which have enabled your company to achieve these results? What would you like to advise entrepreneurs to do to ‘jump onto’ the hoped-for upturn? The merger with Salini Costruttori has undoubtedly had a very positive impact for us. The third largest Italian company in the construction sector emerged from this merger and the growth in our size has certainly been fundamental in enabling us to face important challenges, projects and investment. The same can be said for the foreign markets. As the Todini group, we could be found in 12 countries but now we work in 40 and this allows us to amortise the risks - so diversification of the markets is a piece of advice I feel I can give to those with an international vocation, obviously without biting off more than you can chew, particularly in terms of investment. There are the bases for an upturn in the economy but we must still remember that Italy is ‘paying’ for 15 years delay, with a GDP which is lower by 1% annually than the European average, despite the growth in GDP of recent months; however, there are still difficult months to face. You went into politics in the past and were a Euro MP from 1994 to 1999. In the end, you abandoned that road to dedicate yourself to the family company. Do you have any regrets? My decision was a choice and, at the same time, a requirement, connected to the death of my father in 2001. Quite honestly, though, I think that an entrepreneur is in politics every day - every single job created is a political act. In addition, in my role of president of the Comitato Leonardo, as in that of vice president of the Institute for Industrial Promotion, I can make my contribution to these important questions, on work, on the promotion and development of the country. This, for me, is being ‘political.’ But then, never say never. For the time being, however, with work, the family and a small daughter, I’m not thinking about any commitment to active politics. During the G8, you spoke in Rome at the meeting with the women from the entrepreneurial, culture and political worlds. After your speech, even the Libyan leader al-Gaddafi, went up to you and said, “You’re a man, not a woman.” Did this comment flatter or irritate you? It was a very particular context; there was a discussion on women’s rights, policies in favor of women and the need for equality between men and women in all spheres. When al-Gaddafi said that to me, I thought I should ask him if it was a positive comment. He assured me it was a compliment, paying homage to my abilities. And I accepted it as such.

    [caption id="attachment_786" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Italian Hamburgers for the Russian Market "]Italian Hamburgers for the Russian Market [/caption] THE INSTALLATION WILL SERVE THE MCDONALD’S RESTAURANTS IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION - Inalca JBS (Cremonini Group and JBS) have inaugurated a new factory with the brand ‘MARR Russia’ in Moscow. At the beginning of last February, Inalca JBS (a company resulting from the alliance between Cremonini S.p.A. of Italy and the Brazilian group JBS S.A., the largest producer of beef meat in the world) inaugurated a new production and distribution complex with the brand ‘MARR Russia’ in Moscow. Luca Zaia, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Elena Borisovna Skrynnik, the Russian Minister for Agriculture, and other important local and international dignitaries attended the inauguration. The new industrial complex includes one of the largest and most modern distribution logistics platforms in Russia for the sale and distribution of food products, and a factory for the production of hamburgers, fitted with the most advanced technologies. The completely automated installation has a production capacity of 80,000 hamburgers per hour and will mainly serve the McDonald’s restaurants in the Russian Federation. The new complex was designed and co-ordinated by Tecnostardue, an Inalca JBS company, and has been built at Odinzovo in a strategic position next to the Moscow ring road. The new complex is on an area of 25,000 square metres, and is developed on three floors with an overall covered surface area of 26,000 square metres. It will employ about 400 people and has required an investment of Euro 100 million, fully self-financed. The factory is the result of Inalca being in Russia for more than 20 years. In this market, the company has generated revenues of Euro 140 million, through the subsidiary ‘MARR Russia,’ in 2009. The company expects to reach a turnover of about Euro 180 million in 2010 with the full implementation of the new factory. “The start of work in this new industrial complex is a reason for particular satisfaction for me as it rewards those, like me, who have always believed and invested in this country, and who have always understood and respected the high standards and strict production rules,” commented Luigi Cremonini, founder of Inalca and president of the Cremonini group. “The Cremonini group will now be a leader on two fronts in Russia - on one hand laying the bases to complete the production supply chain of the bovine sector through this new factory, and the start of another investment for the construction of a butchery installation in the Orenburg region. On the other, we will be able to distribute and enhance Italian food and product excellence, constantly growing in the Russian food industry, through the use of the new distribution platform in Moscow and the existing one in St Petersburg.”

    by Camilla Sala
    THE 2ND MEDITERRANEAN FORUM, ROME, FEBRUARY 25-26, 2010 - The Mediterranean countries can offer significant development opportunities for Italian SMEs. It’s up to Italy, historically and geographically at the center of the area, to relaunch its role of leadership. [caption id="attachment_639" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The Mediterranean Must Stay ‘Mare Nostrum’ "]The Mediterranean Must Stay ‘Mare Nostrum’ [/caption] The 2nd Mediterranean Economic Forum, organized by ICE, Confindustria and the Italian Banking Association (ABI), in collaboration with Rome City Council, and UIR, under the aegis of the Ministry of Economic Development with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was held in Rome on February 25 and 26. It was attended by about 600 companies, over 200 coming from 13 countries - Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey - for a total of 1,300 business meetings. Its aim was to relaunch the ‘bridging’ role Italy is called on to play in traffic and economic relations between North Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. At the time of Caesar, who established the concept of Mare Nostrum for the first time to indicate the predominant role played by Italy in this geopolitical area. Over the centuries, this expression has lost its original ‘imperialist’ connotations and is now a reference to the real growth potential in the markets. Mediterranean countries, with 280,000,000 inhabitants, a great quantity of energy available and strongly expanding economies, offer Italian companies significant opportunities for development. Just think, for example, of the allocations arranged by Egypt for the construction of wind farms and water treatment installations (about US $100 billion) for 2009-2010 or the modernization and extension of port infrastructure like East Port Said, where 40% of the goods entering Egypt transit. Similar work will be carried out in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, which boasts the main terminal in the Mediterranean, the Tanger Med. In addition, many governments are adopting a series of reforms to promote the liberalization of trade, simplify bureaucratic procedures and stabilize the tax regime. Up to now, who has bet on this ‘sea of opportunity’? Once again, the ‘Asian tigers’ are in the front line. The emerging economies have multiplied their presence in the area in recent years and now represent about 20% of the overall investment. Europe is still the leading investor, with a share of 40%, also because of the cooperation programs linking it to these countries. Italy can carve out the role of leader for itself in the development of the Mediterranean by leveraging on European projects, in particular the medium-sized ones easily accessible to small and medium-sized companies. To date, 92% of the investment has been made by multi-nationals which, following the economic crisis, have had to reduce their work. A great deal has been done by the Italian system to promote relationships between Italy and countries on the southern bank - and the Mediterranean Forum is certainly an example - but the game is still open and the stakes are high; as some experts stress, the risk is to find oneself noting that what was once ‘our sea’ is now that of the others.

    min svil