Carlo Sama, thirty years after the suicide of Raul Gardini: “It's time for peace with the Ferruzzis”

Carlo Sama, thirty years after the suicide of Raul Gardini: “It's time for peace with the Ferruzzis”

by Carlo Annese and Andrea Pasqualetto His truth, three decades after the death of his brother-in-law: Raul was the most audacious “leader” of the 1980s economy, but he chose to enter treacherous terrain. For everyone. Now I pray that our children will talk to each other frankly and lovingly and understand how and This article hit the 7 newsstands August 25th. Other reports will be published online in the coming days for readers Eleonora, Ivan and Maria Speranza, children of Raul Gardini, meet under the pergola of an ancient building in the center of Ravenna. their historic family home. Across the road, behind an anonymous wooden door, appear Carlo Sama and Alessandra Ferruzzi, husband and wife, who once lived here permanently. Gardini-Ferruzzi, the Romagna dynasty, two famous names from a city which, thanks to them, was the world capital of agro-industry and also of sailing for twenty years. Between the opposite there is only a strip of asphalt, via Massimo d’Azeglio, but as if there were an impassable wall. Because these close relatives just don’t speak to each other. And not since yesterday: it’s been thirty years. Since that on the morning of July 23, 1993 Raul Gardini decided with a shot to put an end to his existence, becoming a bit of a myth for this land. Moral responsibilities The Gardinis saw moral responsibilities in the Ferruzzis for having given the sack, two years earlier, to the leader of a thousand battles who had made their industrial group an empire of global dimensions. And the Ferruzzis were silent, shaking their heads, as if to say, dear nephews, you don’t know the whole truth. The families remained anchored to their positions, each with their own reasons. An absolute firmness. No dialogue, no greetings, just an interminable silence. Carlo Sama, Gardini’s right-hand man for a long time, who later became his brother-in-law and finally managing director of the group after the big boss’s torpedoing, now lives between South America, where he has lands and farms, Montecarlo, Formentera and Ravenna, the city that repudiates him. considering him a traitor. He is in Paraguay these days and has met the President of the Republic and the Minister of Industry of that country for an important investment in green hydrogen and ammonium nitrate: over one billion dollars. With one eye he follows business, with the other what is happening in Italy, now that we are talking about the life and death of the man who was his mentor. Doctor Sama, what then is the truth about him? Premise: I was lucky enough to live alongside Gardini some of the happiest moments of his life as a man and as an entrepreneur, moments that were happy for me too. I am referring in particular to the 80s which represented the golden age of our group’s expansion, i.e. the phase in which Raul was most successful in putting his genius and creativity into practice in the footsteps traced by Serafino Ferruzzi. Those were the years of the so-called leaders of Italian industry and finance. And no one in that period was more leader than Raul. No one like him knew how to face with courage and lucidity an enormous number of difficult and complex challenges in such rapid succession: Beghin Say, British Sugar, Montedison, ethanol, the development of soy cultivation, the acquisitions of Cerestar in Europe, Central Soy America and more. Gardini was not interested in the easy earnings of finance, towards which other entrepreneurs of that period were more inclined. Above all, he was interested in being able to leave a significant and lasting trace in the sphere of production and industry, which means creating real wealth, innovation, a far cry from simply moving shares and money from one coffer to another. For this reason, Gardini was certainly the most daring and genuine of those times. And, perhaps, the attempt to build large-scale industrial enterprises subsequently led him onto terrains that were too treacherous and harmful for himself and for the Ferruzzi group, whose stability was seriously endangered. What are these harmful soils? Here too I have to make a premise. In 1991, in a very difficult moment, after the traumatic departure of Raul Gardini from the Ferruzzi Montedison Group, I was asked to be managing director by the Ferruzzi brothers, Arturo, Franca and Alessandra who was my wife. I accepted, despite not having the necessary qualifications and management experience of such a high level and fully aware of the great difficulties that I would have to face. It would have been much easier for me to suggest to the Ferruzzi brothers, heirs of that Serafino founder of the group, to find a great and authoritative external manager. But in the meantime a serious, indeed very serious, problem had emerged that needed to be solved. After the breakup of the family with Raul and Idina we had discovered that the accounts of the Ferruzzi Montedison group were not in order. In what sense? For example, there was the tail end of a crazy international speculative operation on soybeans at the end of the 80s, which had produced a huge loss for our group on the Chicago Board of Trade, the most important stock market in the world for soybeans. agricultural subjects. It was an operation decided by Gardini and entrusted by him to the manager of the Ferruzzi Montedison group in Paris, Roland Gagliardini, with the unconditional right to operate. He was practically given carte blanche. This speculative operation officially cost the group 100 billion lire. Roberto Michetti, one of the historical managers of the group, who remained with Gardini until the end, says that in reality the loss was two to three times greater and the difference financed with accounting tricks. what? For us it was even much higher. Money then paid drawing largely from the foreign assets of the Ferruzzi family, the legacy that Serafino left to his four children after his tragic and premature death in 1979. Serafino operated all over the world and was certainly the most global entrepreneur era there was in Italy. This cash estate, which amounted to approximately 1,250 billion lire and made him the most liquid man in Italy, was managed by Pino Berlini, to whom it was in the fiduciary name. Berlini was a young employee of the group who, after Serafino’s death, reported only to Raul, who, upon assuming leadership of the group, had in fact demanded and obtained full delegation of foreign assets as well. In practice, Berlini could only take orders and instructions from him. With that delegation, the family was practically tied hand and foot, betrayed by Berlini who answered only to one: Raul. WHEN OUR FAMILIES DIVIDED THE DEBTS WERE HUGE AND GARDINI DECIDED TO DRAW ON THE FERRUZZI’S FOREIGN ASSETS Why was the colossal loss on soybeans also paid with the family “cash”? Gardini himself said it: he didn’t want to lose face and weaken himself in the eyes of the market by highlighting such a huge loss, also having an ongoing tug of war with his partner Eni for the management of the Enimont joint venture. Besides the hole in Chicago, what other irregularities did you find in the accounts? There were several. At that moment, there was still a lot to do with the America’s Cup in sailing, on which Gardini had bet a lot. Under the deal, it was supposed to cost Montedison about $200 million, but it cost much more. To the official disbursement of Montedison must be added the money always taken from the family assets of the brothers. But then we would have to remember the practically fictitious sale of Fondiaria and more. All operations that had dramatically weighed down the two family holdings that controlled the Ferruzzi group and dried up the liquid assets bequeathed to their children by Serafino. It was at this point that Berlini invented the “back to back” system using funds from Montedison. (These are bank deposits made to guarantee loans to be disbursed to certain beneficiaries, ed). the system also used to pay bribes to politicians? Yes. Faced with this situation, what did you do? I have tried to lay the foundations for a radical restructuring of the group. With the best managers of Ferruzzi Montedison, the support of the Research Office headed by Professor Marco Fortis and the fundamental help of Goldman Sachs, I launched a project which envisaged the merger of the two family holding companies which would have allowed me to reduce the group’s debt , both by selling the entire petrochemical sector for the impressive figure of 8 thousand billion lire to Shell (I had already signed the contract in May 1993) and then subsequently opening the share capital of the holding company, a family safe, to very concerned to recapitalize the entire underlying system. I HAD THE LUCK TO LIVE NEXT TO RAUL SOME OF THE HAPPIEST MOMENTS OF HIS LIFE AS A MAN AND ENTREPRENEUR The project was never carried out, why? Because Mediobanca and its allies intervened, since they wanted at all costs to manage the restructuring of the Ferruzzi group, but in their own way. In June 1993 they therefore decided, with immediate application, to suddenly block all current accounts, active and passive, of the main companies of our group. The Ferruzzi brothers were cornered and practically forced to sign the restructuring mandate of the Ferruzzi group exclusively with Mediobanca. But Mediobanca did not renovate anything, his plan was to liquidate the group and expropriate the Ferruzzi family. Thus I undertook, together with my wife Alessandra Ferruzzi, to avoid the bankruptcy of Serafino Ferruzzi, already requested by the banks, which would have involved and overwhelmed not only the families of the Ferruzzi brothers, but also the family of Raul Gardini, who had payment of his severance pay and that of his wife Idina Ferruzzi shareholder with 23% of the Ferruzzi group: 505 billion lire. In short, with great effort we prevented the bankruptcy of Serafino Ferruzzi, which would have been an economic and financial disaster, but above all an indelible dishonor for a group that had been the first in the world in the production of soy, polypropylene, penicillins, leader in Europe in sugar, starch, oils, etc… 30,000 employees. Montedison pays bribes to Italian politics, many and all. You were convicted of the Enimont affair, false accounting. What do you think of that system? First of all I was convicted but I was also rehabilitated. I could assume any position, even public. What do I think of that system? I answer with a question: what has changed?. Is this how it works in Paraguay too? I do not know this. More than anything, it seems to me that it works like this all over the world. Now in Italy we are once again talking about financing parties, in my opinion the important thing would be to make it explicit, to declare it, if I want to finance a campaign I must be able to do it in a legal way. How did the Enimont supertangent, the so-called mother of all bribes, come about? She was an anomalous bribe, because she was paid by the Ferruzzi group not to establish business relationships with politics but to have none after having sold Enimont to the political parties. It was a kind of one-off settlement, decided by Raul Gardini one afternoon at his house in Milan. At that meeting were present the vice president of the Banca Commerciale Italiana and judicial custodian of the Enimont shares under seizure, decided by judge Curt, who was later corrupted by ENI, and the president of the same Banca Commerciale Italiana. They estimated that the political system needed at least 100 billion lire for all related costs, including commissions to intermediaries. Gardini’s goal, as he himself said, was to defend the turnover of the Ferruzzi Montedison Group, more than 30,000 billion lire, left to the Ferruzzi family after the sale of Enimont to ENI. Relations with political representatives were managed directly by him personally. He managed and the others performed anyway, including her. Among the mysteries of Mani Pulite is the bribe paid to Botteghe Oscure. Does he reveal it to us? I remember the famous dinner at the Hassler hotel in Rome with the leaders of the Communist Party, to discuss the issue of tax exemption from Montedison contributions to Enimont. We had had various meetings with Andreotti, De Mita and the others. And at that dinner Raul and I met Occhetto and D’Alema. It was aimed at verifying that the party maintained its commitment to transform the decree into law and that the tax exemption was an integral part of it. THE ENIMONT MAXI TANGENT WAS ABNORMAL: THE LA PAG GROUP NOT TO BRING RELATIONS WITH POLITICS BUT TO CLOSE THEM D’Alema said that the dinner was actually a coffee and that there was no talk of money Berlini recounts that he gave a billion lire, delivered by Gardini himself to Botteghe Oscure. I don’t know who he then took them to. But certainly during dinner it emerged that if there was a contribution to make, Raul would not have shied away. Was the dinner at the Hassler preparatory to the bribe? One plus one equals two. This operation was carried out personally by Gardini. However, the manager Panzavolta, who had relations with that party, acted as intermediary. Why did Raul Gardini commit suicide? Raul should have been arrested that day, as he happened to me. On the events relating to the management of the Ferruzzi Montedison group, he said nothing to anyone in the family. So much so that his wife Idina, she told me later, learned for the first time from Raul about the real state of the group only the day before. She was in Ravenna and joined him in Milan on July 22, after news had been circulated of the first interrogation of the engineer Giuseppe Garofano – president of Montedison, who had taken over from Gardini – who seemed to be offloading the responsibilities of the final management of Enimont onto Raul . Did Idina learn about bribes on that occasion? Even bribes. After her suicide Idina had come on a trip with us to Argentina, to Cuba, she was often at my house in Rome. And then we were together on many other occasions… I remember very well when Raul and I had had a very brief conversation at the announcement of the suicide in San Vittore prison, three days before that of Raul, by the engineer Gabriele Cagliari, former president of Eni. He told me: “died a hero”. The tone of voice betrayed a powerful emotion for this tragic and dramatic gesture. What was Idina’s reaction? He told me that she was speechless and accused him of having created a system of tension with her brothers and family, of having in a certain sense deceived her. IDINA, RAUL’S WIFE, KNEW FROM HER HUSBAND THE REAL STATE OF THE COMPANY ONLY THE DAY BEFORE THE SUICIDE. AND GET ANGRY Gardini perhaps wanted to save the family with his gesture, says the lawyer De Luca who was defending him. In addition, he was worried because you and Sergio Cusani didn’t give him the documents to be able to defend himself. Not true. I remember that in a meeting with Raul right in De Luca’s office, Raul asked me for these documents which he didn’t have and I had them delivered to him immediately. Perhaps he meant detailed documents, to find out how much he had been paid and to whom, don’t you think? We had given them what we had. Is it true that in the spring of 1993, after the sensational family divorce, he asked Gardini to return to the group to try to relaunch it and offered him his resignation? Yes, true, and it was a project worked out with Goldman Sachs. Gardini and Sergio Cragnotti were asked to enter the share capital of the Serafino Ferruzzi family holding company with their assets. I am referring to the liquidations of both which amounted to more or less around 700 billion lire at the time which would have allowed a cascading recapitalization of our corporate system. And he? Raul took 24 hours to decide and told me that the next day he would have to meet Luigi Fausti, the new president of Banca Commerciale. Through Fausti he wanted to see Cuccia and Maranghi of Mediobanca, probably to anticipate his return to the Ferruzzi group. I later learned that Fausti clearly told Gardini that Cuccia and Maranghi did not wish to meet him. I am sure that this was a very hard blow for Gardini. His wife Alessandra, in a recently published letter, was very hard on Raul. She writes that he could not have done anything without his father Serafino. Isn’t that a bit excessive? Alessandra only returned enemy fire, when it was said that the Gardinis were richer than the Ferruzzis which is false… The truth is that in the end Raul would have wanted to replace Serafino. Look, there’s his personal diary that reveals many secrets. On October 7, 1990, he wrote in his own hand: “Decision to close, to be Ferruzzi. From now on for me and my children there is only to make up for. Why this? Because now things can be considered as if they were in order. Just as the old people liked it. From this position, to move towards a new order we need the people and the will, and therefore age”. Long before the joint venture was concluded, Enimont was therefore already working on a project to distribute capital by number of children and wanted to transform the Ferruzzi Group into the Gardini Group. So Gardini would have made Serafino Ferruzzi forget. Have you ever had the temptation to replace Gardini? Never. After thirty years, the Gardinis and the Ferruzzis still don’t speak. And these words may not help. When is the reconciliation? my big wish. At this point, after all the dramatic and painful events that have happened, I pray to God that at least our children – those of Alessandra and myself, of Arturo and Emanuela, of Idina, of Raul, of Franca and Vittorio – who are now all grown up and in turn become parents, are finally able to talk to each other in a frank, respectful, loving way. Also to know and finally understand what really happened to our family and to our entrepreneurial group created by their grandfather Serafino Ferruzzi. And I add: dear boys, the time has come to courageously seek the truth. We must end the poisonous lies and destructive grievances. the time has come for the cousins ​​to find each other, to love each other and to be united again. August 31, 2023 (modification August 31, 2023 | 08:56) © REPRODUCTION RESTRICTED

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