Italian fiscal authorities investigate Bvlgari’s take over by LVMH

The Italian government approved measures on Wednesday that would restrict foreign takeovers of companies in the food, energy, defence and telecoms sectors, a government source said. The restrictions, first mooted by Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti last week, would be based on a principle of reciprocity, allowing target companies to use similar defences to those allowed in the country of the buyer, the source said.

The measures come as Italy’s biggest listed food maker Parmalat and No.2 power group Edison are engaged in battles for control with French shareholders. French luxury group LVMH is also buying Italian jeweller Bulgari.

Italian newspapers said the measures would require foreign investors acquiring Italian companies to obtain government approval 60 days in advance. They would also give Italy’s bourse regulator Consob equivalent powers to France’s AMF to require clarification of potential hostile offers. The fact that they would be based on similar measures in France would help get around potential objections from European authorities in Brussels, the paper said.

The scope for government action over takeovers was underlined late on Monday when Italy’s tax agency said it was checking whether the sales of stakes in Parmalat and jeweller Bulgari were in line with tax rules.