This weekend saw Exor, the holding company controlled by Italy’s famed Agnelli family, announce the move of its headquarters to the Netherlands from Turin in Italy. But does the shift undermine the group’s relationship with its traditional stakeholders in Italy? John Elkann, the chairman and chief executive of the group, which has holdings in Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, The Economist and Partner Re, doesn’t think so. He told reporters last weekend not to see the move as “symbolic”, nor as a “fiscal ploy”, according to the Financial Times. After all, Exor will continue to be listed on the Milan stock exchange and is only moving its fiscal and legal headquarters to the Netherlands.
Elkann has always been a big advocate of the family business model – and has spoken to the media and conferences about his and his firm’s dedication to the concept. But some might see the current move as an example of Exor becoming more concerned about short-term business priorities, rather than adhering to its tradition of protecting the long-term interests of its stakeholders. Still, whatever way the move is interpreted, one thing isn’t in doubt and that’s how Elkann has changed the fortunes of the group since 2004 when it faced bankruptcy on the back of severe problems at Fiat in the early 2000s. The latest results for Exor show net profits nearly doubling year on year to €430 million in the first six months of 2016. That will certainly keep one group of stakeholders happy – the shareholders.