MILAN -- Publishing-to-gambling group De Agostini won European regulatory approval on Wednesday to buy Italy's sixth largest insurer from Fiat SpA.
The European Commission waved through the 2.4 billion euro ($2.8 billion) deal for De Agostini to buy insurer Toro Assicurazioni from the industrial giant, a deal which also gives it entrance to the shareholder pact of Capitalia bank.
The transaction marks a power shift in Italian business.
Fiat, the symbol of Italy's postwar economic power, is shrinking its global empire, selling its insurance, wines and aerospace businesses to raise funds to shore up its loss-making car unit and pay down debt. Meanwhile, families like the Benettons, who run the Benetton Group retail empire, and the Dragos and Borolis, who run De Agostini, are diversifying.
"Buying Toro was a smart move. It signals they are now part of the new nobility of capitalists in Italy...Diversification along these lines also served the Benetton family very well," said Carloalberto Carnevale-Maffe, a professor of strategic management at Milan's Bocconi University.
The deal was approved under the Commission's simplified procedure, used when neither customers nor rivals have complaints about the deal.
De Agostini, which last year bought lottery firm Lottomatica out of a war chest estimated to be around 1.3 billion euros, has said it is studying ways to finance the Toro deal.
Media have reported it may include selling Toro's holding in French company Continent to insurer Generali.