For example, should they seek an alliance with Whirlpool or with Bosch? Two Boards of Directors, that of the family holding company and that of the group, are at the end of their term, and there is no agreement among the heirs-partners as to the strategy to follow: this is the situation in a difficult season for the internal equilibrium of the Indesit Group, which is 43.8% owned by the Fineldo holding company owned, in turn, by the family of Vittorio Merloni with his four children: the eldest daughter Maria Paola, the twins Andrea and Aristide and the last born Antonella.
With 20% each the children and wife of the leader Vittorio control the holding company, but the "usufructuary" is Vittorio, 79 last April, honored with the title of "Cavaliere del Lavoro" and beloved former president of Confindustria, physically still vigorous but affected by Alzheimer's Disease.
The outgoing chairman is Andrea Merloni, 46, who took his father's place on the previous Board. Andrea hopes to be reconfirmed. The CEO is Marco Milano, formerly number two under Andrea Guerra, who was promoted when his boss moved to Luxottica.
The group's performance is not doing stellar: as of 30 September profits were down by half compared with 2011 (21.5 million). Sales should reach 2.9 billion, in any case, but with 20,000 employees and debts totaling 450 million the situation is far from ideal.
The twin (fraternal) of Andrea, Aristide, would like a change for the company, Maria Paola agrees, Antonella is a little uncertain but as a whole the family, including Vittorio's elder brother, Francesco Merloni, 87, direct shareholder of Indesit with 7%, thinks that the company could and should do more: perhaps reconsidering a strategic agreement with Whirlpool which Vittorio negotiated to within inches of the signature six years ago, but which fell through at the last minute.
The competitive pressure of the big Asiatic appliance manufacturers, Samsung and LG, is intense even on Indesit's strong markets, like Russia and Great Britain. But the British partner is still waiting, and Bosch is also interested in an alliance. The problem is, who can make a clear decision on the strategies if the sole shareholder is no longer able to and those under him can't agree?