Succession scramble grips Italian family firms after COVID scare

MILAN, Feb 3 (Reuters) - For years Dionisio Archiutti had seen his father toy with the idea of bringing a new investor into the family business, but he knew time would not necessarily help the 80-year-old decide.

"Italian entrepreneurs often tighten their grip on their firms as they get older, fearing there may not be a future without them at the helm," he said.

Yet a year into the pandemic, Giacomo Carlo Archiutti sold 30% of the kitchen manufacturer he founded in 1967 in Italy's industrial north east to a private equity firm.

Pre-pandemic the Archiuttis would have stood out as a rarity, an Italian family-owned business welcoming an external investor as a first step to addressing succession planning.

Now, however, bankers say they are overwhelmed by requests to examine possible deals from small and mid-sized (SMEs) companies facing challenges from supply chain disruption to financing investments required to keep them up to speed with digital and environmental business standards.

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