Upward Mobility

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Major developments are taking place in Italy’s business capital, Milan.
This fast-paced Italian city is the country’s largest industrial city and capital of the Lombardy region, which is responsible for 20 per cent of the country’s GDP.
While Milan excels in service-sector industries: design, fashion, advertising, publishing, insurance and banking; the Lombardy region boasts an economy based on high-end manufacturing. Now adding to Milan’s powerhouse image, there’s The Unicredit Tower – Italy’s tallest building and the most eye-catching landmark in the new Porta Nuova business district.

As was recently stated in the October issue of QFinance, former Prime Minister Mario Monti brokered a deal between the investment house Qatar Holdings and the Italian state-backed private equity fund Fondo Strategico Italiano (FSI). As part of this deal, over the next four years, €2bn will be invested in the businesses in which Milan excels: furniture, design, food and, of course, fashion. Qatar Holdings also has a 40% stake in the €2bn Porta Nuova project, which should be completed in 2014 and which already dominates the Milan skyline.

Worth noting, Porta Nuova is one of Europe’s largest mixed-use property developments. It’s located just about one kilometer from Milan’s best known historic building, the city’s cathedral also known as the Duomo di Milano. The Duomo is matched in drawing power by another of Milan’s top tourist attractions: Leonardo da Vinci’s painting: The Last Supper. From the new to the old ­– and let’s not forget the San Siro football stadium, home of both AC Milan and Inter Milan – there’s no doubt that Milan continues to be an ever-evolving and dynamic economic hub.

As reported in QFinance, Milan’s mayor Giuliano Pisapia recently told a London-based investment magazine:

“In the past couple of years I have received many delegations and many of them were international investors willing to invest in Italy, especially in Milan. The city is seen as the most able to produce returns on investments [largely]because it has resisted the effects of the financial crisis better than many other European cities.”

Pisapia also has another big event on his calendar: ExpoMilano 2015, which will be held between May and October of 2015, with the theme “feeding the planet, energy for life”. It’s forecast that twenty million tourists from 130 different countries will attend the Expo. As experience shows, high-style extravaganzas and must-see events are this city’s strong suit. Just take a look at Milan’s fashion week – one of the big four along with Paris, London and New York – which features shows presented by fashion’s most prestigious houses: Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Prada. In addition, the celebrated Salone Internazionale del Mobile (Milan’s Furniture Fair) is the largest trade fair of its kind in the world.

Meanwhile, construction continues on the necessary infrastructure. One of many projects is a high-speed rail line that will make Milan and Turin only 35 minutes apart; another project is for the creation of two new metro lines. Pisapia says:

“We are facing big challenges in the next two years in order to revamp Milan ahead of the Expo, which is going to be the biggest event held in Italy after the crisis. [To answer these challenges, the country needs] political stability and [to pay]particular attention to Milan.”

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