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Italy sets curbs on Pirelli's Chinese investor Sinochem
Italy sets curbs on Pirelli's Chinese investor Sinochem
by AFP Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) June 16, 2023

Italy's government said Friday it would impose special conditions related to smart sensors in Pirelli tyres to protect national strategic assets, seeking to curb China's influence over the national tyre maker.

The right-wing government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced in a statement that it would exercise its "golden powers" on a pending shareholders' agreement ahead of Pirelli's general meeting of shareholders on June 29.

The government's intervention "endows Pirelli with a series of instruments to protect its strategic asset, including a strategic industrial security clearance that provides for limits on accessibility to information," it said.

Pirelli's shareholder meeting had been postponed to give the government enough time to examine a shareholders' agreement with Chinese conglomerate Sinochem, Pirelli's largest shareholder with a 37 percent stake.

Sinochem bought into Pirelli in 2015 in a 7.1 billion euro ($7.8 billion) deal that raised serious concerns in Italy about the independence of the Milan-based group.

Sinochem has a pact with Pirelli's second-largest investor, the Camfin holding company of Pirelli CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera, which holds a 14.1 percent stake.

In May 2022, the parties decided to extend their agreement for a further three years, and intended to submit it to the shareholders' meeting.

The government has a say in the matter due to its special powers (called "golden power") in sectors considered strategic to safeguard the national interest.

In its statement, the government cited the importance of vehicle data compiled by sensors implanted in Pirelli tyres, which, when combined with artificial intelligence, can create "complex digital models that can be used in cutting-edge systems such as smart cities and digital twins".

Citing various sectors in which such technology can be used, such as industrial automation, advanced manufacturing and machine-to-machine communication, the government said Pirelli's tyre technology "emerges as a critical technology of national strategic importance."

Pirelli will set up an "autonomous organisational unit for security" and for certain strategic decisions before the board of directors, a vote of 4/5 of members will be required, it said.

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