A rainbow of sensations characterizes the current mood of Italian non-ferrous metals operators. LME prices are constantly shifting, the market is awash with nervousness and extreme uncertainty increasingly surrounds the process of buying and selling. But to remain positive, it is worth remembering that, despite more than a third of medium-sized companies having to suspend their business activities during COVID-hit 2020 while another third had to work at half capacity, the overall turnover reduction was only 11% compared to the previous year, according to a Mediobanca survey.
The capacity of medium-sized companies to adapt is also demonstrated by the optimism with which they are looking to the future: more than half (55%) confirmed that they remained committed to existing investment plans, with 4% even proposing to expand on them; meanwhile, 38% were looking to reduce planned investments and less than 3% were cancelling proposed investments completely. Amid this crisis, there were some who saw the opportunity to make acquisitions (16%) or to undergo a relaunch and management renewal (a further 16%). In terms of production, Italy should continue to react well to these months of instability even though estimates suggest it will take at least two to two and a half years to return to pre-crisis levels.
We must trust that the ingredients for the success of the Italian business model will not act as an intrinsic limit in the future as companies thrive in the family dimension, enhance their entrepreneurial genius but struggle to detach themselves from it to grow. In fact, there is no distinction between ownership and management in almost three-quarters of cases in Italy: a single person in charge is a pioneer but, at some point, he or she should look to share the boardroom with the next generation.
LCD Trading S.R.L (ITA), Board Member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division