Piano Mattei

Railways, the future between appointments and the idea of privatisation: what will Meloni and Salvini do?

Ferrovie dello Stato (Fs) will be, together with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Cdp), the main center of gravity of the 2024 nominations round.
The group that coordinates the transport of goods and people by rail and the rail transport infrastructures and national intermodal, in addition to having the Anas motorway company under its management, is among the public subsidiaries with the most strategic value.
FS expiring: the scenarios The "captain" of the Italian railway sector will see the board of directors, the president Nicoletta Giadrossi and the CEO Luigi Ferraris expire in the spring.
The match for the renewal of the board of directors will involve Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the Treasury of the Minister of Economy and Finance Giancarlo Giorgetti and the "stone guest" Matteo Salvini, owner of that Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport which is taking on increasingly important strategic.
And a derby between the two major shareholders of the government, with the Northern League owner of the MEF with divided loyalty in the middle, is plausible.
Among the giants with public participation, the backbone of the Italian economy, FS is probably, together with Enel, the least thorough.
But its consolidated business structure makes it a remarkably strategic asset.
Through the operational arms Rete Ferroviaria Italiana and Trenitalia, whose boards of directors were renewed in 2023.
FS directly and indirectly holds funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) for 40 billion euros and manages an impressive portfolio of infrastructure investments estimated at 200 billion by 2030.
Infrastructure, high speed, Mattei Fs Plan looks in multiple directions.
Firstly, to the development of infrastructure and networks, with development projects ranging from the Brescia-Verona high-speed line to the Palermo-Catania and Naples-Bari lines.
Secondly, there is a strategic weight of Ferrovie dello Stato in the management of a dual high-speed market which on the Frecciarossa-Italo axis has created a system of competition between public and private actors also exported abroad, from France to Spain.
A third fundamental point is the issue of the group's presence abroad.
Trenitalia controls a 100% British branch, a 75% French branch and 45% of Ilsa, the private Spanish high-speed operator.
In Germany FS owns the railway operator Netinera, in Poland Trenitalia owns 50% of Pol-rail, a company operating in the transport of goods by rail.
Two companies of the FS group, Grandi Stazioni and Italferr, operate respectively in the management of hubs and network development in the Czech Republic and Poland.
FS has contributed to the development of networks in various non-EU countries (Turkey, Egypt, Uruguay, Iraq) and Meloni focuses heavily on the theme of railway development in the framework of the Mattei Plan for Africa.
We arrive at the fourth point, which unites the previous three: the expansion of FS into the world of logistics.
A plan where finance, public appointments, Pnrr investments and geopolitics add up.
And which sees FS competing with planetary giants, such as the MSC group and Exor.
«The Ferrovie logistics hub is a fundamental piece of the Mattei Plan, the Meloni plan, a plan that attracts John Elkann's Stellantis which with the former Iveco sells agricultural machinery in Africa», notes Carmelo Caruso in Il Foglio.
The parallel convergences with MSC and Aponte The journalist of the newspaper founded by Giuliano Ferrara adds that "ports and rails are needed for the concrete application of the Plan", in a context in which "the Railways are now a business of Gianluigi Aponte, the entrepreneur and owner of the MSC.
He will be an increasingly decisive figure.
Aponte has recently acquired 50 percent of Italo, a competitor of FS for the division of the high-speed market and at the same time his MSC, in addition to the business of transporting people with its cruise ships, is also active in the flow of goods, and its containers travel everywhere in the world.
In 2022, recalls Caruso, “Aponte acquired the transport and logistics activities of Vincent Bolloré.
Railways returns to the situation.
On 15 November, in Geneva, the MSC group and Ferrovie, through its subsidiary Mercitalia logistics, signed an agreement which provides for the birth of a new company.
The common objective is to build new terminals to manage the intermodal ship-railway traffic which is expected to grow".
Appointments and scenarios FS is therefore destined to play a notable role in the future.
From abroad, the group aims to obtain at least 5 billion euros in revenues per year by 2030, around a third of the current global turnover, and the Meloni government is divided between the nomination game and the temptations of privatisation.
The future governance structure of FS will be indicative of the internal balance within the government.
Giorgetti and Meloni are oriented towards the privatization of part of the group's shares, an objective also shared by Ferraris di Ferrovie.
While on the one hand an inflow of fresh capital could appear constructive for FS's business, the principle that sees the sale of shares as functional to reaching the quota of 20 billion euros of privatized public assets which on these columns we have predicted will be problematic is problematic.
difficult to obtain without the sale of part of the family jewels of the public estate.
And Fs is today the company with the most placeable capital.
Ferraris clings to its role as a potential key player for privatization to secure confirmation and claims the group's investments.
Salvini instead wants to focus on a manager more suited to him such as Luigi Corradi, CEO of Trenitalia, and Fabrizio Favara, former head of operations at FS and now CEO of Netinera.
The hypothesis of a Salvini-Meloni derby will therefore be played out on several levels: the name of the CEO; the choice whether to privatize or not, which sees Salvini against the sale of shares; the interconnection between the public sector and the future of private players such as MSC, which not surprisingly have other dossiers open with the Treasury, such as the Ita Airways one (which Aponte has his eye on).
Placing a flag on the Red Cross Square group will mean, for the leaders, being able to control a group that knows how to look to the future.
And shaping its strategies will mean being able to have considerable visibility for the breadth of the works and projects that Ferrovie dello Stato will have to implement.
Passengers also for the role of operator destined to have great attention on the future Bridge over the Strait of Messina.
In Salvini's transition from "Captain" to "Trainmaster" there is the dream of seeing the works start during his tenure at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
For whose success a lot depends on how Fs goes.
Salvini knows it, and Meloni knows it too.
Which could lead to tight negotiations with his main ally on the subject of the group's future between now and spring.

Author: Hermes A.I.

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