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Last Updated: Monday, 5 May, 2003, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Telecom tycoon to take over Vespa firm
Vespa scooter
The Vespa is sold as a lifestyle accessory

Italian financier Roberto Colaninno is in talks to take control of the Piaggio group, famed for its Vespa scooters.

Mr Colaninno is sitting on a substantial cash pile after a Pirelli-led consortium took control of Telecom Italia from him in 2001.

He is understood to have been looking for new opportunities and earlier this year made an abortive bid for car giant Fiat.

Venture capital group Deutsche Morgan Grenfell owns about 86% of Piaggio.

'Historic brand'

The company's Vespa scooters came to symbolise Italy's "Dolce Vita" lifestyle in the 1950s and 1960s.

But it has suffered from weak demand in its main Italian market in recent years and is burdened by debt.

Mr Colaninno told a meeting of shareholders of his IMMSI holding company he would close a deal to take a controlling interest in Piaggio "by the end of May" or early June.

"The Piaggio group will close 2002 in the red, but we believe that it is a historic Italian brand and the deal will bring us satisfaction," he said.

According to La Repubblica newspaper, Mr Colaninno could be planning to use Piaggio as a launchpad to buy into Italian motorcycle groups MV Augusta and Ducati.

Pirelli forecasts telecom gloom
05 Nov 01  |  Business
Fiat reveals record loss
28 Feb 03  |  Business

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