As some in the US see Goldman Sachs as acting as a springboard for banking executives with top political ambitions, in Italy it’s the other way round: from politics to banking. In Goldman, of course. From powerful cabinet secretary of Berlusconi Gianni Letta, to current chairman of the ECB and former director general of Italy’s Treasury Mario Draghi, up to former PMs Romano Prodi and Mario Monti, all of those personalities used to work for or be adviser to Goldman. Not certainly as a full time job, with the sole exception of Draghi who served as vice chairman and managing director of Goldman International and as member of the firm-wide management committee from 2002 to 2005, they are said having helped the bank by exploiting their relationship network. In Italy, the core business of Goldman consists of big corporations, such as oil concern Eni, the automaker Fiat, the international power group Enel and the Italian government itself. All big names, anyway, well known internationally even when their size is smaller, as in the case of fashion group Prada. The US bank has always been keen of gaining reliability in the global markets, that’s why it needs global class advisers. According to the Italian press, it was Gianni Letta, hired in 2007, to recommend Goldman to stay away from an all-domestic deal such as the bailout of air carrier Alitalia in 2008. Before Letta, Romano Prodi reportedly gave advise to Goldman since 1990, after a seven year tenure as chairman of industrial and banking state concern Iri. Also Mario Monti, a former EU commissioner who lead a technocrats government after Berlusconi step down in November 2011, was repeatedly mentioned in the media as an used-to-be adviser to Goldman.
In 2006 Goldman decided to strengthen its Italian team and hired Massimo Della Ragione from JP Morgan, where the banker handled important banking deals such as the merger of Germany’s HVB into Italy’s UniCredit or the takeover of Rome’s based lender Bnl by Bnp Paribas. Today he is co-head of Goldman Italy and oversees the bank’s business in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Goldman’s executive team in the country includes a group of Italian names well known in the City of London: the partners Francesco Pascuzzi, co-head of the investment banking, Gilberto Pozzi, responsible for M&A in the EMEA region, Alessandro Dusi, the head of research Francesco Garzarelli, Simone Verri, the two managing directors Antonio Gatti and Antonio Mattarella. Compared to that of the Nineties of last century, mostly made of huge privatizations launched under Prodi government, the business of Goldman in Italy has somewhat changed nowadays: Goldman Sachs is among the 10 top market makers of Italy’s debt while the relationship network it built over years in the country is now so wide that there is no more need of being introduced by big names into the circles of economic and financial power. Goldman stays in any case still well focused on its traditional business in Italy: it was Goldman that did one of the rare IPOs of the last few years in Milan, that of the notebooks maker Moleskine, and the same Goldman was recently hired by fashion group Versace which is searching for a minority financial partner.