Tycoons quarrel over Italy’s young jobless; Two of Italy’s business heavyweights have gone to war over the country’s soaring levels of youth unemployment

Tycoons quarrel over Italy’s young jobless

Two of Italy’s business heavyweights have gone to war over the country’s soaring levels of youth unemployment

Italy’s youth unemployment reached a record 41.6pc in January

By Josephine McKenna, in Rome

11:04PM GMT 16 Feb 2014

Two of Italy’s business heavyweights have gone to war over the country’s soaring levels of youth unemployment.

Diego Della Valle, head of the Tod’s luxury leather goods empire, launched a blistering attack on John Elkann, the president of the Fiat auto giant, after Mr Elkann said Italy’s young unemployed had no desire to look for work.

Mr Della Valle, the colourful entrepreneur known for his exuberant ties and gold-tinted spectacles, labelled Mr Elkann an “imbecile” after a week of bitter exchanges between the two.

Mr Elkann, 37, is the grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli, who groomed him to take over the Fiat empire that also now controls Ferrari, Maserati and Chrysler.

“There is work, but young people are not so determined to find it. If I look at the opportunities that exist, I don’t see in them the desire to take up these opportunities,” said Mr Elkann, who comes from one of Italy’s richest dynasties, and also owns Juventus FC.

Italy’s youth unemployment reached a record 41.6pc in January, and at the weekend Mr Della Valle responded to Mr Elkann’s comments.

“One who says young kids stay at home because they don’t want to work [although] there is work is an imbecile,” he said. “They should keep him at home or he should go skiing.”

The dispute between the two men appears to be part of a broader rivalry over the operations of RCS MediaGroup, an international publishing group in which each holds a stake.

“John Elkann belongs to a family that has destroyed a large number of industrial jobs and as a consequence the hopes of many young people,” Mr Della Valle said.

Mr Della Valle, who is funding the €25m (£20m) restoration of Rome’s Colosseum, has a reputation for being blunt and outspoken. In September last year, he accused fashion designer Giorgio Armani of failing to play his part in saving Italy’s cultural heritage and urged him to save Milan’s Sforza Castle.



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