Foreign investors are back to looking at Italian businesses, especially from a medium-term perspective. This is the surprising element that emerges from the statistics compiled by AIFI – the Italian association that unites 170 businesses active in the private equity (entering into businesses with private capital in order to support their development) and venture capital (operations on small companies in the first stages of growth and with high potential) sectors. During the first quarter of 2014, the funds that collected capitals to be used in the next 5-7 years in Italy obtained underwritings for 221 million (51% of the total) from international institutional investors (banks, insurance companies, and pension funds).
This figure is clearly higher than the total amount collected by Italian private equity from foreign investors in 2013: 162 million. Moreover, it signals a strong change of direction in terms of the attention paid to Italy by those financial operators who are more attentive to growth opportunities in the medium term.
The first quarter also saw an acceleration of the investments actually made by international funds: foreign private equities closed 19 operations on Italian businesses, for a total of €1.037 billion. During the same period in 2013, only 6 operations were carried out, for a total of €661 million. “There is an increasing amount of attention from foreign operators on our country’s businesses, which [in turn] brings capital indispensible to the growth of out entrepreneurial fabric – explains AIFI president Innocenzo Cipolletta – in fact, 51% of this quarter’s investments derive from international subjects.”
In Tuscany, the most important investments in the beginning of 2014 regarded Dedalus, a Florentine company specializing in software solutions for the clinical-healthcare sector. Hutton Collis, a London based private equity, committed 50 million to acquire a minority share of the capital and to underwrite a loan to support the company’s expansion plans. In recent years, Dedalus was able to turn itself into a hub for ICT applied to the healthcare sector, taking over various companies in Italy. This strategy brought their turnover to €70 million in 2013, with a gross operating margin of 17 million. In 2009, it began its international expansion that led to operations in China, South Africa, Romania, Spain and Latin America, as well as entering the Egyptian and Saudi markets.
During the first years of the month, according to AIFI statistics, private equity funds (both Italian and foreign) carried out nine operations on businesses located in the region. A comforting figure, given that fifteen investments were carried out in the Region during the entire 2013.