“Going to sea gives you useful lessons even in the business world”

«In 1951, the small town of Gairo Sant’Elena in Ogliastra was destroyed by a storm. It was rebuilt at an altitude of eight hundred yards. The main road was not paved. The houses did not have heating systems. The Carabinieri station was located at the entrance to Gairo. One night in 1969, they planted a bomb on the window of the commander’s residence. The commander was my father Giuseppe. I was four years old. We lived in that apartment, me, him, my mother Paola and my sister Daniela, who is smaller than me. No one was injured. Even though the fright was great. Gennargentu was a complicated place. There were feuds. Abigeato, theft of cattle, was practiced. The Sequestri Company had the power and the banditry was aggressive towards the law enforcement and the representatives of the state ».

For lunch in Cagliari

Carlo Cimbri, 57, has long been the new man for Italian finance. We are at the restaurant Calamosca. From this shaded terrace overlooking the beach of the same name it is stunning: wonderful colors and intense scents a few kilometers from the center of Cagliari, in one of the last days before the peak of summer brings annoying heat to southern Sardinia this year and crowds of tourists. In the early afternoon light, the waiters serve raw fish appetizers: tuna and salmon tartare, shrimp and scampi. Cimbri is a complex personality, despite the simplicity of his traits and way of being: “I was employed and then a very normal leader of Unipol, my parents were humble people, they left me neither wealth nor relationships”.

The consort era

Cimbri avoided the collapse of Unipol after the lost season of Gianni Consorte, who as an exponent of finance and cooperation of communist origin tried in 2005 to acquire the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, trying to establish a financial-strategic-political bloc, an alternative to the system of Catholic finances, secular finances and the cross-cutting party of public spending that marked Italian history from World War II to the Second Republic: “Unipol at the time had six front-line leaders. I was one of them. I made the technical construction of the offer. The design was, of course, by Consorte and Vice President Ivano Sacchetti. Beyond any theme of pure power, the operation itself was industrially and strategically wrong. Insurance and banking can not be Siamese twins. The bank has employees, and the insurance has agents. The organization is different. The cost synergies are small. And then the risk problem is different for a bank and for an insurance company: In an organization born of the full merger of two such different entities, the development of revenue would have an absolute and counterproductive internal contradiction ».

The acquisitions

Cimbri has prevented Unipol’s economic weakness, political isolation and legal fragility – the judiciary closely followed the Consorte and subsequent periods – from leading the company to become a division to be divided. With a strategy where over the years he has mixed elements of orthodoxy (the relationship with Mediobanca by Alberto Nagel, the permanence of the board of RCS and the presidency of Ieo) and elements of rupture (the assessment that the actions may still weigh a little, but now they are first and foremost, even in Italy), has become increasingly crucial in the Italian financial game. The first significant operation in 2012 was the acquisition of Fonsai. Subsequently, Unipol became the controlling shareholder in Bper, with which it bought branches from Ubi and took over Carige, creating the third banking center after UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo. Therefore, it took over 10% of Popolare di Sondrio.

Wine and first course

The waiters suggest a variety of wines. Finally we take a Weindorf Gewürztraminer, a wine from Trentino-Alto Adige. Cimbri says: “My mother Paola was a primary school teacher. My grandparents lived in Cagliari. My grandfather Alfredo was an electrician and plumber. My grandmother Tonina was a housewife. Their home was not far from the harbor. My mother and I spent long periods in Cagliari as guests of my grandparents. Gairo was isolated and distant from everything ‘. The servants bring a first dish. Carlo takes the Calamosca pasta: fresh egg spaghetti alla chitarra sautéed with tomato, garlic and oil, bottarga, squid, clams and clams. I continue, however culurgions: Sardinian potato and mint ravioli, with butter and tomato sauce.

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