Fiat family takes biggest stake in The Economist

The Agnellis now own 43% of the weekly business magazine.

Italy’s billionaire Agnelli family has emerged as the largest investor in The Economist Group.

Earlier this week it was reported Pearson had sold its half in the 172-year-old magazine for £469 million ($1.1 billion) to Exor, a private equity fund, and the Rothschild family.

Before that, Pearson sold the Financial Times to the Nikkei company in Japan.

The Agnellis control carmaker Fiat Chrysler through Exor, which has agreed to pay £287 million to lift its shareholding from 4.7% to 43.4%.

The Rothschild family bought a 5% stake, lifting its shareholding to 26%. The remaining shares were repurchased by the Economist for £182 million.

Exor chief executive officer John Elkann, who is on the Economist board, is also a director of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Other shareholders in The Economist include the Cadbury and Schroder families.

The sale includes changes to Economist Group articles that stipulate a voting cap of 20% for any single investor and a rule that no one person or company can own more than 50% of the group’s shares.

The Economist, which has been edited in London since 1843, has a circulation of 1.6 million.

The group also includes the Economist Intelligence Unit and titles such as CQ Roll Call. It reported £60 million in operating profit on sales of £328 million in the year to March.

Exor owns two Italian newspapers, La Stampa in Turin and the national daily Corriere della Sera.

Exor recently bought reinsurer PartnerRe for about $US6.9 billion in its biggest single acquisition in more than a century.

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