Exclusive: Why Italian business powerhouse di Montezemolo loves Abu Dhabi (2022)

Via dei Mangili is a quiet and tree-shadowed street in Rome, surrounded by magnolia adorned villas, just beneath Villa Borghese, a gargantuan green expanse filled with pines in the heart of the Eternal City.

It was once the hunting and leisure resort of 17th Century patron of the arts Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

Now the area has been converted into the biggest urban park in Europe. The honkof car horns and the daily soundtrack of Rome’s crazy traffic are miles away in this secluded and silent neighbourhood called Parioli, which is the home of Italy's financial upper-class.

One of these elegant villas houses the headquarters of Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the real heir to the mantle of the late tycoon Gianni Agnelli, the biggest entrepreneur in the country’s history.

Mr Montezemolo’s decades long career spans Fifa’s World Cup Italia ’90, his debut as a global manager, the Agnelli’s Fiat company itself (now FCA), where it began, then Formula 1 and the luxury car maker Ferrariand, more recently, Italo, the first private Italian high-speed train operator.

Exclusive: Why Italian business powerhouse di Montezemolo loves Abu Dhabi (1)

He has also served on the boards of Alitalia and Unicredit. His son Matteo runs Charme Capital Partners, a private equity fund focused on “Made in Italy” brands, where Montezemolo Senior has gathered all the most prominent Italian businessmen, from Diego Della Valle, the patron of luxury group Tod’s to Nerio Alessandri, founder of fitness company Technogym. Mr Montezemolo is also king deal maker outside of Italy. In Abu Dhabi, with Mubadala Investment Company, he helped develop the leisure potential of the capital almost 10years ago with the launch of Yas Island’s Ferrari World theme park.

For such an admired figure, his office is in an understated ground floor location. He sits on a chair by Poltrona Frau, the Italian design brand owned by Charme and then sold to American firm Haworth four years ago, wearing an utterly elegant double-breasted grey suit. Behind him is a giant framed photograph, depicting the desert: it's a shot from the movie Arizona, by award winning director Wim Wenders, which Mr Montezemolo bought at an auction. Shelves are filled with Renaissance art and design books, Ferrari models and a small humidor.

"Scusi un secondo[hold on, please]," he says, when his mobile phone rings. He drops a call from the mayor of Anacapri, the rock-nestled town at the top of Capri Island, to focus on this exclusive interview for The National.

Mr Montezemolo, would you describe yourself as a new Marco Polo? Few Italians were familiar with the UAE before your interest in the country.

My family used to visit Dubai in the 1990s. At the time nobody in Italy knew about the city or the UAE. In 1995, I was serving as Ferrari chairman: in the same year I went to the city, because the luxury Italian car brand was opening its first show-room. The relationship with Abu Dhabi started years later, when I met [Mubadala CEO] Khaldoon Al Mubarak, and I just fell in love with the city and the culture: the desert, the islands, the Corniche, so peaceful and quiet; such a warm hospitality from the people. Sometimes, I considered moving there: to me Abu Dhabi is my second home.


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How did the Ferrari World deal come about?

Mubadala invested in Ferrari. They bought a 5 per cent stake from [merchant bank] Mediobanca. I called Khaldoon, big friend of mine and also a first-class manager, to serve on Ferrari’s board of directors. I recall the first [Formula One] GP in Abu Dhabi, which I promoted: VIPs from all over the world gathered on Yas [Island], from the King of Spain to the King of Sweden. Furthermore, as Ferrari chairman, I signed the agreement for the Ferrari World: at the time I was thinking about a MotorCity project, which Abu Dhabi accepted. I offered the Ferrari heritage and fame. When the first brick of the park was laid, there was nothing around except for the Yas Hotel and the race track. Ferrari World was,

Exclusive: Why Italian business powerhouse di Montezemolo loves Abu Dhabi (2)

You seem to be a big fan of Abu Dhabi: in Italy you are considered a business ambassador for the Emirates. Why?

Abu Dhabi has a modern and open-minded ruling class. The planning ability of Abu Dhabi is impressive: already in 2004 I saw a mock-up of Louvre Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed,Abu DhabiCrown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces,and the Royal Family started 20 years go to envision the strategy and foresee the future development. The UAE has a coherent and consistent country project. Let me just make a comparison;Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but quality of life has dramatically dropped in the last years; in Abu Dhabi quality of life has sky-rocketed instead. That’s why I consider myself a strong Abu Dhabi promoter: the city is one of the safest in the world.

All that glitters isn't always gold. Alitalia proved to be a difficult episode for Etihad and Abu Dhabi...

Alitalia is my personal regret. I hoped, and believed, Etihad [Airways] and Alitalia could co-operate [following the former’s investment in 2014]. There was a mutual interest to create an airline hub in Abu Dhabi and it would have been a great opportunity for Italy, too. Alitalia’s employees have a big responsibility in the company’s bankruptcy. The ‘No’ vote [by staff] on the labour agreement [in 2017] was a self-punishing decision. Whatever will happen to the company now, jobs will be lost because Alitalia is over-staffed and has too many employees. I want to be very clear on the Alitalia issue, [the situation was] tough. The end of the agreement with Etihad has nothing to do with Italy-UAE relationships. Italy should be grateful to Abu Dhabi, in any case. They made a huge investment in a big Italian company as the country was suffering from a severe crisis. Abu Dhabi is also a big shareholder in Unicredit, the biggest and most successful Italian bank. Again, the UAE put money into Italy when it was needed.

So what’s happening to Italy economically and financially now?

Italy really is, at the end of the day, a self-made country. Never has 'Corporate Italy'been so distant from politics than now. Italy has been prospering and creating wealth while disregarding politics and the government. The country is suffering from eternal problems such as sluggish growth, poor southern regions left behindand, more recently, the EU policy on the migrants which left the country alone in managing an overpopulation crisis in North Africa. Despite all of this, though, Italy still remains a country of extraordinary opportunities.

Where is Italian capitalism going? Foreign observers don’t see giant and charismatic people like Gianni Agnelli anymore.

Italian capitalism is undergoing an interesting mutation and transformation where sons of the founders that built economic boom in Italy after the Second World War, were more interested in finance than industry. New generations are coming up and they are back into the companies, as much as new brands are conquering international markets. Just think about strong brands and companies such as [Nutella maker] Ferrero confectionery, [brake system supplier] Brembo or [automated packaging company] Ima. Italy’s exports are hitting new record levels. When I was the Confindustria (Italian industries association) chairman I brought 400 Italian enterprises to AbuDhabi. Unfortunately, Italians have a hyper self-catastrophic attitude. Northern Italy is richer than Germany, the so called 'EU Locomotive'. Germany, also, has been for decades the first export market for the Italian manufacturing industry. Now the country is eager to open to new markets: the UAE should be one of them. Italy should invest in Abu Dhabi; and it is also important for Abu Dhabi to attract Italian investments. Historically speaking, Abu Dhabi has always had economic and political relationships with France, Germany and the UK. So that’s why Italy should increase commercial and economic links with Abu Dhabi. Political relationships also need a boost: Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are just around the corner for Italy and all these countries have strong relations with the UAE and it could play an important role in stabilizing these Arab countries and this is vital for Italy. That’s why I will continue to do all my best to improve bilateral relationships.

Exclusive: Why Italian business powerhouse di Montezemolo loves Abu Dhabi (3)

Who’s your heir? Who will the next Montezemolo be in Italy?

The Montezemolo of the future will be myself. I still feel very young in my mind and I have a lot of projects to work on in the near future. The next one, as a matter of fact, will be just in Abu Dhabi [the culture concept Casa Italia that will showcase Italy's treasures and which builds onthe growing art scene in the emirate].

The Marzotto family, which sold the Valentino luxury brand in 2006,. He is again dressed in a double-breasted suit and has just concluded a deal to invest in an Italian manufacturer of vending machines.. “I did not want to sell Valentino, if it were up to me, I would have kept the brand,” Mr Marzotto says.. "Behind Dondup there is a network of small companies, high-skilled suppliers, craftsmanship, even local traditions," he says.. “I’ve been in this industry for 25 years, my family comes from textile and manufacturing.. Mr Marzotto knows Dubai well as he was the chairman of Vicenza Oro, the Italian gold fair, which has been held for 60 years.. It runs in the family: Mr Matteo's great grandfather was the first industrial tycoon in Italy.. Still, this country is the second manufacturing economy in the EU; and the biggest luxury manufacturer in the world.

Quattro svincoli furono soppressi: quello di Moncalieri "La Rotta" al km 3, quello del santuario di Vicoforte al km 67, quello di Montezemolo al km 92 e quello di Carcare.. Martedì, le 23 protagoniste dell’evento hanno scaldato i motori sul leggendario tracciato di Gueux per approdare, in serata, all’abbazia di Hautvilliers, dove si è svolta la cena ufficiale in presenza del Presidente Luca di Montezemolo e di un’altra grande protagonista: la F12berlinetta, ultima creazione della casa di Maranello.. Il guardaroba, presentato in sfilata a Roma, alla presenza di Luca Cordero di Montezemolo (Presidente), James Hogan (Vice Presidente) e Cramer Ball (Amministratore Delegato), avrà il logo Alitalia sulla borsa e sui guanti per lui, sulle borse e sul cappello per lei.. Comparte este artículo Abu Dhabi, 14 November – Today two very special visitors were guests at the theme park: Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo and vice Chairman Piero Ferrari, who came to the United Arab Emirates to support the Scuderia Ferrari in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final act in the 2010 Formula 1 Championship, from close up, visited Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the theme park, dedicated to the Prancing Horse on Yas Island.. Abu Dhabi, 14 novembre – Oggi il parco ha avuto come ospiti due visitatori molto speciali: il presidente della Ferrari Luca di Montezemolo ed il Vicepresidente Piero Ferrari, giunti nell’emirato arabo per supportare da vicino la Scuderia Ferrari nel Gran Premio di Abu Dhabi, atto finale del Campionato del Mondo di Formula 1, hanno fatto visita questa mattina al Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, il parco tematico dedicato sull’isola artificiale di Yas Island alla Casa di Maranello.. Maranello, 7 novembre 2012 – Il Consiglio di Amministrazione di Ferrari S.p.A. si è riunito quest’oggi sotto la Presidenza di Luca di Montezemolo per esaminare i dati di chiusura dei primi nove mesi del 2012.. La Spider più prestazionale della storia della Ferrari (458 Speciale A) è stata svelata dal presidente Luca di Montezemolo alla presenza del presidente di FCA John Elkann e dell’Amministratore delegato di FCA Sergio Marchionne.. Speriamo di aver fatto un bel regalo di nozze a Clementina, la figlia del nostro Presidente Luca di Montezemolo !. Ecco che attraverso flussi Crossmediali una stessa fonte di contenuti ci raggiunge attraverso più canali: guardiamo un pezzo di "Crozza nel paese delle meraviglie" in TV, poi andiamo a letto e seguiamo la diretta streaming dal tablet e il giorno dopo cerchiamo su YouTube l'imitazione di Montezemolo per rivederla con calma.

In early March, the interview was on again, but the location changed three times over a 24-hour period.. Mr. Montezemolo bounds into Valadier's third-floor restaurant about 20 minutes late.. His full last name is Cordero di Montezemolo but, in the interests of economy, he's happy to be called Mr. Montezemolo.. "I will never sell this car because it was a gift from Gianni Agnelli.". Mr. Montezemolo, shown in 2004 at Fiat’s museum in Turin.. "I never drink wine at lunch," he says.. When I tell him I hate to drink alone, he caves in and orders a crisp chardonnay from Friuli, the region in Italy's extreme northeast, just beyond Venice.. For all his executive titles and board memberships, he is associated most with Ferrari and the team's glory years, when Michael Schumacher steered Ferrari to five consecutive Formula 1 championships between 2000 and 2004.. But the fiercely competitive Mr. Montezemolo would not have taken the job unless he thought Rome had a fighting chance.. "These will be the games of culture and beauty," he says, adding that two-thirds of the sites from Rome's 1960 games would be reused, cutting down on costs.

You led Ferrari for 23 years as CEO and Chairman.. What does Mister Ferrari think of the company today?. But what is certain is that the company is different today.. I love Switzerland but I never thought to leave my country and to live abroad.. The last time I was in Zurich was four years ago, when I met with Joe Ackermann, who I know for more than 10 years now.. Not long ago in an interview Berlusconi was asked, who he would like to have in his government, he said: Montezemolo as foreign minister.. They have no elites that are good at leading - they have no professional people.. But one of my best days at Ferrari was, when we won the trophy from the “Financial Times” for the best place to work in Europe.. Even if you have a good car, you still have to push the accelerator.. If you have happy and good people, then you can be successful.. You wanted to fire people when you were chairman at Alitalia.

Enzo Ferrari has been dead these past 32 years so we came to Rome to meet the man who is the living embodiment of the most famous motor racing team the world has known.. Luca di Montezemolo gave a rare interview to Sportsmail on the eve of Ferrari's 1,000th F1 race. The 73-year-old left the Scuderia in 2014 but still loves the famous Italian team. 'When I think of Ferrari,' said Ecclestone, 'I think of Enzo Ferrari and of Luca Montezemolo, and nobody else.'. Along with Michael Schumacher, Di Montezemolo visited the Pope at the Vatican in 2005. Di Montezemolo was key to Ferrari's domination of Formula One in the early 2000s that saw them pick up five straight drivers' championships up until 2004 with Schumacher (above). 'One person said motor racing is for rich people, it is dangerous and bad for the environment.. Di Montzemolo had been involved at Ferrari as far back as 1974, pictured with Niki Lauda. Who designed the car, asked Montezemolo?. He was the ultimate team driver.. Schumacher arrived in 1996 at Ferrari as Di Montezemolo put together a winning team. 'I was pleased his son Mick won the F2 race the other day at Monza.. I ask him who stands out among Ferrari drivers.. In the race.'

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