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Waiting for Cuccia

Enrico Cuccia

Is the end of an era nigh in Italy? Investors thought so in mid-April, after the 92-year-old éminence grise of Italian finance, Enrico Cuccia, was admitted to hospital with a respiratory illness. Shares in Mediobanca rose in the expectation that the old man's departure would bring long-overdue reform at the shady merchant bank.

But then came the predictable news from a worker at Milan's Luigi Sacco hospital: Cuccia is sitting up in bed and reading War and Peace, suggesting the wily Sicilian intends to stick around for another few chapters. Indeed, if he's able even to pick up Tolstoy's tome, Cuccia appears to have more strength left in him than the Milan stock market had hoped.

Those cynical souls who speculated on Cuccia's imminent demise had forgotten that in Italy, all important decisions have to pass through the honorary chairman of Mediobanca.

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