MILAN, Italy — A courtroom in Turin is about to rule within the coming weeks on an inheritance dispute dividing the Agnelli household, the founders of the Fiat car firm and arguably the very best identified of Italy’s enterprise dynasties.
The case stems from the property of Gianni Agnelli, the celebrated Fiat boss who was an emblem of Italy’s post-war financial increase and who died 20 years in the past.
It pits Agnelli’s daughter Margherita, who inherited 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion), towards three of her eight youngsters together with her eldest, John Elkann, the chairman of Ferrari and carmaker Stellantis.
Within the dispute that has riven one in every of Italy’s elite households, Margherita is preventing to overturn agreements she signed after her father’s dying in an effort to finally profit her 5 youngsters from a second marriage, sources near her say.
Ought to the Turin courtroom determine in her favor, Margherita, who’s 67 and Gianni Agnelli’s solely surviving little one, may stake a declare to half of her late mom’s property and a share within the Elkann household enterprise.
The middle of the dispute
The dispute has its origins in an inheritance deal often known as the “Geneva pacts” that Margherita, an artist and philanthropist, signed in 2004 after the dying of her father the earlier 12 months and agreed to when Fiat was getting ready to chapter.
Below the primary pact, Margherita obtained property, artworks and different liquid belongings from Gianni’s property and renounced any future affect within the Dicembre (December) firm, a key a part of the possession construction of Exor, the Agnelli-family holding.
The pacts cemented John Elkann’s place as Gianni Agnelli’s chosen successor and successfully took his mom Margherita out of the equation.
John Elkann, 47, now leads Exor, which owns slices of prestigious companies and types together with nationwide newspapers and the soccer membership Juventus.
The second pact coated what would occur to the property of Margherita’s mom Marella, who died in 2019 aged 91.
Marella handed her Dicembre stake to a few of her grandchildren, John, his brother Lapo and sister Ginevra, from Margherita’s first marriage to journalist Alain Elkann.
Margherita desires the pacts to be rescinded to have the ability to give her youngsters with second husband Serge De Pahlen, a Franco-Russian former Fiat government, a share of their grandmother’s property, sources near her say.
Margherita additionally argues that undeclared wealth belonging to her father was found after his dying and that she is entitled to a share of this together with different relations.
A supply on Margherita’s aspect dismissed strategies that the preliminary settlement coated the potential for extra hidden belongings being discovered from Gianni Agnelli’s property.
Switzerland or Italy?
Marella’s dying prompted the authorized declare that’s on the middle of the case that opened three years in the past in Turin, the house of Fiat and conventional base for the Agnelli clan.
It’s the newest in a collection of courtroom battles over the inheritance, unfold between Switzerland and Italy over the previous 15 years.
Margherita’s attorneys in Turin argue that the “Geneva pacts” ought to be declared null and void as a result of they had been signed on the premise that Marella’s residence was in Switzerland, which they dispute. Italian regulation prohibits such inheritance pacts.
Paperwork filed by Margherita’s attorneys with the courtroom of Turin, which have been reviewed by Reuters and embody stories by non-public investigators, declare that from 2003 to 2019 Marella by no means spent greater than 4 months a 12 months in Switzerland and mustn’t have certified as a Swiss resident.
Sources near the Elkann camp keep that each the Swiss and the Italian authorities confirmed Marella Agnelli’s standing as a Swiss resident when she died in 2019 and likewise in 2004 when the inheritance settlement was signed.
The supply on Margherita’s aspect disputes that interpretation.
Shares within the agency
Following Marella’s dying, John Elkann has a 60% share of the Dicembre holding whereas brother Lapo and sister Ginevra every have 20%. Dicembre is on the coronary heart of an online of firms spanning the huge Agnelli household investments.
It’s the largest shareholder, with a 38% stake, in Giovanni Agnelli BV, which teams round 100 shareholders representing round 200 dwelling descendants of authentic Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli.
Giovanni Agnelli BV in flip has a 53% controlling stake in listed Exor, which owns stakes in Stellantis, Ferrari and Juventus.
The sources near the Elkanns keep there is no such thing as a authorized consequence that may reverse the switch of the shares in Dicembre to the Elkanns. The claims of Margherita search to acquire unwarranted additional monetary benefit, they are saying.
A verdict is due in Turin earlier than the summer time break but it surely won’t be an finish to an affair that has left Margherita estranged from her first three youngsters.
The Italian judges have the choice of suspending judgment pending a ruling from a Swiss courtroom in a parallel case on the legality of the Geneva pacts.