© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi speaks at the opening of his People of Freedom bloc congress in Rome, Italy, March 27, 2009. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo
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MILAN (Reuters) -Four-time Italian prime minister and billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, who died on Monday at the age of 86, never publicly indicated who should lead his business empire after his death.
The future of his business interests will likely depend on how he has chosen to distribute his 61% stake in family holding company Fininvest between his five children from two marriages. His eldest daughter Marina is expected to play a prominent role.
THE ELDEST HEIRS
The eldest, Marina (born August 1966) and Pier Silvio (April 1969) have both been directly involved in running Berlusconi’s companies since soon after their father made his entry into Italian politics in the early 1990s.
Marina, who chairs Fininvest, has been overseeing publisher Mondadori while Pier Silvio has been in charge of the TV business which has long been the jewel in the family’s crown.
THREE YOUNGER CHILDREN
Barbara (July 1984), Eleonora (May 1986) and Luigi (September 1988), the children Berlusconi had with his second wife, have not had any such high-profile executive roles in the management of their father’s businesses.
Luigi assumed the task of representing his side of the family at Fininvest, where he is a board member, on the back of his focus on finance and wealth management.
SILVIO AS “THE GLUE”
People close to the family described Silvio Berlusconi as “the glue” who kept his children united, despite their age range and differing attitudes and ambitions.
The big question is whether family unity can be maintained after Berlusconi’s departure and what impact that might have on the future of the TV business on which Berlusconi built his fortunes.
In recent years Fininvest liquidated assets which it deemed no longer strategic, from European soccer champions AC Milan to stakes in biotech firm Molmed and Italian merchant bank Mediobanca (OTC:MDIBY)
The family holding company has confirmed its commitment to its TV business MediaforEurope, supporting plans to grow in Europe to resist the U.S. streaming giants through M&A deals.
But it remains to be seen if this ambition will be sustained after the death of the founder.