The Mezzogiorno gets a helping hand

Targeting the less lucrative Southern region of Italy, last year the European Investment Fund (EIF), San Paolo IMI Group and Sviluppo Italia set up the first venture capital fund for the Mezzogiorno. The fund has a target of e100 million and its main focus will be on the expansion of small and medium-sized enterprises in Southern Italy. The fund will also make a significant contribution to the creation of technology-based companies.

The ambitious project is being backed by the European Investment Fund, San Paolo IMI Group and Sviluppo Italia, the national agency for the economic development of Southern Italy. The fund will benefit from the expertise of Sanpaolo IMI’s private equity subsidiary, NHS Nuova Holding and the venture capital experience of the EIF. The support of the Italian Government through Sviluppo Italia also gives the fund an added advantage.

EIF chief executive, W Cernoia, said: “The fund will give to the Mezzogiorno a new tool, managed with the highest possible professionalism by SP IMI Group.”

Giuliano Mari of NHS Nuova Holding said: “The level of competition for investments in the South is less, but it will be a challenge.”

He added that given the positive response to the Mezzogiorno fund, NHS Nuova Holding is also looking to launch a second, smaller fund targeting deals in central Italy with a target of e70 million. He hopes the fund will again have the backing of the EIF.