Iveco-Faw, can golden power be applied? Doubts and scenarios

The Minister of Economic Development Giorgetti has opened the possibility of putting the golden power on the offer of the Chinese state group Faw for Iveco. For the experts, however, the operation is uphill. The Defense division is out of the agreement and lacks a foothold to intervene with the special powers

It will not be easy to put the golden power on the sale of Iveco to the Faw Group Chinese. The words of the Northern League Minister of Economic Development Giancarlo Giorgetti have rekindled the spotlight of Italian politics on the Chinese group’s offer for the Italian company producing trucks and buses and for the engine part of Ftp Industrial in the hands of CNH International, in turn controlled by Exor, the group of the Agnelli family.

Giorgetti said Thursday that the question “is objectively a matter of interest to Golden power. It does not mean that we will adopt it, but I consider this type of production to be strategic, which can also be the subject of industrial reconversion ”. A good part of the center-right was joined by the number two of the League, by the forceist Antonio Tajani to the vice president of the Copasir of Fratelli d’Italia Adolfo Urso.

The negotiations between Faw, a group controlled by the Chinese government, and CNH have been going on for some time, even if an official offer has not yet been announced. According to Reuters, CNH rejected an offer of 3 billion euros last year, deeming it too low. The most probable options at the moment remain two: either a binding offer, or, writes the Courier service, the spin off of FTP and Iveco and their listing on the stock exchange, announced in September 2019. Unless, of course, the Draghi government decides to exercise “special powers” by blocking the operation.

Those pushing for the stop argue that the purchase by the Chinese-state group would allow Beijing to access information on the Iveco division that produces vehicles for the Italian defense and civil protection, “Iveco Defense Vehicles”. Division which, however, it should be remembered, is not part of Faw’s offer. Here doubts arise about the possibility of intervening with the golden power.

“Surely the operation will be subject to notification, by now everything is notified. But the civil vehicle sector today is not included in the list of sectors covered by the golden power, it is outside the perimeter – he comments Fabio Bassan, professor of International Law of Economics at the University of Roma Tre – a regulatory provision would be needed to supplement the list, otherwise it is difficult to imagine a foothold ”.

Although the perimeter of the government’s “special powers” has been significantly expanded by the Liquidity Decree in April 2020 to protect companies from the stock market crash due to the pandemic, neither the mechanics nor the automotive sector itself are covered by the legislation .

The coordination group for golden power at Palazzo Chigi should find a link that allows them to intervene. This is the case of the “Dual-use” sector, ie all those products, including software, which can have both civil and military use. In that case it is the liquidity decree approved by the Conte-bis that brings the sector back under the umbrella of the golden power. But for the definition of “dual-use” it refers to a European regulation (EC 428/2009) which traces a very broad perimeter. Also for this reason sources close to the group of experts of Palazzo Chigi confide in that, for the Iveco-Faw case, “it is difficult to talk about vetoes, at most there may be some prescription”.

The distance between Italian and European legislation on golden power does not help to unravel the problem, notes Bassan. “The European golden power, which was born after the Italian one, does not speak of sectors but of critical infrastructures. Thus the Italian legislation on special powers today moves on a complex matrix: on the one hand the individual sectors, on the other the infrastructures indicated by the EU ”.

The matrix gives rise to a list of sectors included in the perimeter which, “like all lists that provide for an exemption in law, is to be considered exhaustive”. We therefore need a bill, or a Dpcm, to modify it as was done last April. The risk of an intervention outside the perimeter, Bassan warns, is “the beginning of a legal battle in court, because companies face the TAR, and there it is necessary to be able to demonstrate the legitimacy of the operation”.


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