Silvio Berlusconi: Former Italian PM’s eldest children get majority stake

Source: BBC

It’s been the object of much speculation for weeks: who would lead Silvio Berlusconi’s empire after his death?

Now his will has been made public, it is clear he has handed a majority stake in the family’s holding company Fininvest to his two eldest children, Marina and Pier Silvio.

They will jointly own 53% of the family firm.

The four-time prime minister died on 12 June from leukaemia. One of Italy’s richest men, he had amassed a fortune that spanned real estate, television, cinema and sport.

But he never publicly indicated who should lead his business empire.

It turns out he did not distribute his shares in an equal way among his five children.

Marina and Pier Silvio are his children from his first marriage and they will receive bigger shares than the three other children from his second wife – Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi.

The two eldest children have held management roles in the family business since the early 1990s.

They earlier said in a statement that “no shareholder will exercise overall individual indirect control of Fininvest”.

Berlusconi also left €100m (£85m) to Marta Fascina, his partner at the time of his death and 53 years his junior.

They were not married, but on his deathbed, he referred to her as his wife. In a letter that was enclosed in his will, he wrote: “Whatever the amount, be prepared. They will say it’s too much or not enough. Never that it’s right.”

Berlusconi’s brother Paolo also receives €100m, while the late prime minister’s close aide Marcello Dell’Utri will have €30m (£26m).

It is not yet clear how Berlusconi’s many other valuable assets will be passed on; his numerous luxurious villas could be tricky to give to his offspring in an equal way.

His Villa San Martino in Arcore, north-east of Milan, covers 3,500 sq m and dates back to the 18th Century. He also has homes at Lake Maggiore, in Rome, Cannes, the Caribbean and elsewhere.

The jewel in Berlusconi’s crown of properties is Villa Certosa, a mansion in Sardinia that he bought in the 1970s.

He hosted world leaders there, from Vladimir Putin to George W Bush. It has 126 rooms and looks like a theme park, including a fake volcano that erupts lava. Its value is estimated at €259m.

Silvio Berlusconi was arguably one of the most influential men in Italy’s history. For the past 50 years, his shadow has loomed large over parliament, the media, football and the man on the street.

His will included a handwritten letter to his children, which ends with the words: “Thanks, so much love to all of you, your Dad.”

People close to the family have described Berlusconi as “the glue” who kept his children united.

The big question is whether that family unity can be maintained now that Berlusconi has gone, and what impact that might have on the future of his business empire.

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