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Italian entrepreneur Roberto Colaninno dies at 80

KIFI

By Eva Rothenberg, CNN

New York (CNN) — Roberto Colaninno, the CEO and chairman of vehicle manufacturer Piaggio, died on Friday. He was 80.

Colaninno’s investment firm, Immsi SpA, announced his death Saturday morning in a news release but did not provide additional details.

Colaninno began his business career as the CEO of Italian auto parts maker Fiaam before establishing his own components manufacturer, Sogefi, in the early 1980s.

He gained international fame in 1999 when his IT company Olivetti took over Italy’s then-telecommunications monopoly Telecom Italia, a company several times its size. The leveraged buyout was worth $58 billion, making it the largest hostile company takeover to date.

The buyout was seen as a defining moment in Italian and Western European capitalism. The euro had launched as a currency earlier that year.

Colaninno was forced to leave Telecom Italia in 2001, and his investors sold the company. But over the next few years, he acquired investment company Immsi SpA and Piaggo, which manufactures Vespa scooters. He was responsible for the company’s expanding operations in countries like Vietnam and India.

In 2013, Colaninno was honored with the Leonardo Award, an accolade given to individuals by the Italian government for promoting the country’s image on the international stage.

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