Scandal in one of the richest and most powerful families in Italy: mother and son confronted by Agnelli’s multi-million dollar inheritance

The CEO of Ferrari, John Elkan, during the Formula 1 award in Monza, Italy in September 2022. He is facing his mother, Margherita Agnelli for the inheritance of his grandfather, Gianni Agnelli (Reuters) (JENNIFER LORENZINI /)

(MILAN) – A court of Turin will rule in the coming weeks on a succession dispute that divides the family Agnellifounder of the automobile company Fiat and possibly the best known of the Italian business dynasties. The case has its origin in the inheritance of Gianni Agnellithe famous boss of Fiatsymbol of the Italian post-war economic boom, deceased two decades ago.

The case involves the daughter of Agnelli, Margheritawhich inherited €1.2 billion (1.3 billion dollars), with three of his eight children, including the eldest, John ElkannPresident of Ferrari and the car manufacturer stellantis.

In the dispute that has torn apart one of the most elite families in Italy, Margherita He is fighting to annul the agreements he signed after his father’s death to benefit his five children from a second marriage, according to sources close to him. If the court of Turin decide in your favor, Margherita67 years old and the only surviving child of Gianni Agnellihe could claim half of his late mother’s estate and a share in the family business Elkann.

The “Geneva Pacts”

The dispute stems from a succession agreement known as the “Geneva Pacts” that Margheritaartist and philanthropist, signed in 2004 after the death of his father the previous year and which was agreed when Fiat was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Under the first covenant, Margherita received property, artwork and other liquid assets from Gianni’s estate and relinquished any future influence in the company December (December), a key part of the ownership structure of exorethe family holding company Agnelli.

Margherita Agnelli
Margherita Agnelli wants the court to revoke the so-called “Geneva pacts” that left the children of her second marriage out of the family inheritance (Getty Images)

The pacts consolidated the position of John Elkann as chosen successor Gianni Agnelli and they took their mother out of the equation Margherita.

John Elkann47, now directs exoreowner of slices of prestigious businesses and brands, including national newspapers and the soccer club Juventus .

The second covenant covered what would happen to the estate of the mother of Margherita, Marellawho died just in 2019 at the age of 91.

Marella spent his participation in December to three of his grandchildren, Johnhis brother The Po and his sister Genevafrom the first marriage of Margherita with the journalist Alain Elkann.

Margherita she wants the pacts rescinded so she can give her children to her second husband, serge depahlena former Franco-Russian executive of Fiata part of his grandmother’s estate, according to sources close to him.

Margherita he also argues that after his father’s death an undeclared estate was discovered that corresponds to him along with other family members.

A source from the part of Margherita rejected suggestions that the initial settlement covered the possibility of additional hidden assets being found from the estate of Gianni Agnelli.

Claim in Switzerland or Italy?

The death of Marella sparked the lawsuit that is at the center of the case opened three years ago in Turinheadquarters of Fiat and traditional basis of Agnelli clan.

It is the latest in a series of legal battles over the inheritance, spread between Swiss and Italy in the last 15 years.

The lawyers of Margherita in Turin They maintain that theGeneva Pacts” should be declared void because they were signed on the basis that the residence of Marella I was in Swisswhich they deny. Italian law prohibits this type of succession agreement.

The documents presented by the lawyers of Margherita before the court of Turinwhich have been reviewed by Reuters and include reports from private investigators, claim that between 2003 and 2019 Marella never spent more than four months a year in Swiss and should not have been classified as a Swiss resident.

Sources close to the side of Elkann maintain that both the Swiss and Italian authorities confirmed the Swiss resident status of Marella Agnelli when he died in 2019 and also in 2004, when the inheritance agreement was signed.

The source of the side of Margherita dispute that interpretation.

Shares in the family business

After the death of Marella, John Elkann owns 60% of the shares of Decemberwhile his brother The Po and his sister Geneva each have 20%. December is at the center of a network of companies encompassing the vast investments of the Agnelli family.

It is the largest shareholder, with a 38% stake, of Giovanni Agnelli BVwhich brings together a hundred shareholders representing some 200 living descendants of the original founder of Fiat, Giovanni Agnelli.

John Elkann poses next to a Ferrari in Rome outside the Quirinal Palace in a November 2019 file photo (Reuters)
John Elkann poses next to a Ferrari in Rome outside the Quirinal Palace in a file photo from November 2019 (Reuters) (Guglielmo Mangiapane /)

Giovanni Agnelli BV in turn has a controlling interest of 53% in exorewhich is listed on the stock market and owns shares in stellantis, Ferrari and the Juventus.

sources close to the Elkann maintain that there is no legal way out that can reverse the transfer of the shares of December to the Elkann. The claims of Margherita they seek to gain an unwarranted additional financial advantage, they claim.

A verdict is expected in Turin before the summer holidays, but it might not be the end of a matter that has alienated Margherita of his first three children.

Italian judges have the possibility of suspending the sentence until a Swiss court rules in a parallel case on the legality of the Geneva pacts.

(C) Reuters.-

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