Mediobanca and Unioncamere publish the seventeenth edition of their annual survey of medium-sized Italian companies

In the past 21 years, family-owned medium-sized companies have come to account for an increasing percentage of Italian manufacturing industry. This is one of the main points to emerge from the seventeenth edition of the annual survey published by Mediobanca and Unioncamere, which analyses Italian MSEs in the 2007-16 period with a focus on the longer 1996-2016 period.

Comparing the data trends from 1996 al 2016, value added increased by 12.4% to 18.6%, total sales were up 14.6% to 19.8%, and exports up from 15.6% to 18.7%. This performance was driven by the made in Italy sector, which represents 61% of the SMEs’ value added, followed by mechanical engineering (39%) and cosmetics and pharmaceuticals (15%), the latter having now reached the same size as the food industry and now representing a new area of excellence for Italy.

Exports continue to contribute significantly (45%) to the balance sheets of those MSEs which do export, but production still remains largely Italian: for every four production sites in Italy, only one is located elsewhere.

What are the factors which penalize Italian mid-sized companies? The first is taxation: if the MSEs had had the benefit of the lower tax burden seen in the last year for the whole period from 1996, they would have saved something like €16bn in taxes. Another major factor is governance, with generational issues in the companies’ management and the relationship between family ownership and management often problematic.

The full survey is available for download from