Piaggio chairman found guilty in bankruptcy case – December 25, 2006
December 25, 2006
Filed under Features
Piaggio & C. SpA Chairman Roberto Colaninno was one of three executives sentenced to prison in December after an Italian court found them guilty of practicing “preferential bankruptcy” in a case related to a failed real estate and hotel company.
The court convicted and sentenced Colaninno, Capitalia SpA Chairman Cesare Geronzi and Banca Popolare Italiana CEO Divo Gronchi on charges of practicing “preferential bankruptcy” related to Italcase-Bagaglino, which collapsed in the late 1990s following loans by Banca di Roma, Banca Agricola Mantovana and Banca Nazionale dell’Agricoltura. Prosecutors argued the Italian banks sought to gain properties as collateral and extended loans even though they knew that Italcase-Bagaglino was in financial crisis.
Colaninno was a board member of Banca Agricola Mantovana from 1986 to 2002.
The court sentenced Colaninno to four years and a month in prison, while Geronzi and Gronchi were each sentenced to one year and eight months. The sentences can be appealed without jail time.
Capitalia SpA, Italy’s fourth-biggest bank, said it suspended Geronzi following the decision. Colaninno was suspended from the Rome-based bank’s board of directors, but remains chairman and CEO of the Italian powersports company.
Colaninno said he is “convinced of the honesty and legality of the decisions” that he was involved in. “For this reason I hope for a full acquittal in the court of appeal,” he said in a prepared statement released by the Italian stock exchange Borsa Italiana.
Colaninno led a long and storied career prior to taking over and re-launching Piaggio, which went public on Borsa Italiana on July 11.
He began his business career in 1969 as administrative manager at Italian auto components company FIAAM. Three years later, at age 29, he was nominated CEO of the company.
In 1981, he founded SOGEFI, an auto components company that grew to about 30 facilities in more than 20 countries.
From 1996 to 2001, he served as CEO of Olivetti, an industrial holding and telecommunications investment trust. There, in 1999, he led Olivetti’s $35 billion hostile takeover of Telecom Italia SpA. Two years later, after a Pirelli-led group bought control of Telecom Italia from him in 2001, he sought new investments and acquired Immsi SpA as a takeover vehicle in 2002. In late 2003, he used Immsi to purchase control of Piaggio.
Honored in June 2000 with the “Cavaliere del Lavoro ” (Knight of Work) award by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciamp, Colaninno also has served as president and CEO of Telecom Italia; president of Fingruppo and HOPA SpA; on the board of directors of Banca Agricola Mantovana, Mediobanca, Efibanca SpA, Getronics and the National Council of Confindustria; and as president and CEO of Omniaholding SpA, a family owned investment trust company.
In October, Piaggio announced Colaninno had replaced Rocco Sabelli as CEO following Sabelli’s resignation.