The Bank of Italy intends to buy shares in Russian banks, including majority holdings. This was announced during a meeting with journalists in St. Petersburg by Italian Deputy Minister for Industry and Foreign Trade, Adolfo Urso. 'The presence of Italian capital in Russian banks will provide investment into small and medium-sized Italian businesses working in the Russian Federation', he explained. 'We are interested in creating conditions in Russia for the work of our small firms, which comprise more than 80% of Italian business. Urso remarked that a proportion of the goods now exported from Italy to Russia (shaving razors, electric shaving appliances, furniture, clothes etc.) could easily be produced by Italian firms in Russia.
The deputy minister said that Italian groups have also actively acquired shares in local banks in Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Romania. In central and eastern Europe, 30 thousand Italian small and medium-sized business are now working. Urso remarked that in Russia his representatives own only six Italian banks. He also plans in the near future to open a branch of the large Italian bank BCI Inteza in St. Petersburg.
Italy is Russia's second most important economic partner after Germany, and is the seventh largest investor into the Russian economy. In the first five months of 2002, exports from Italy to Russia grew by 25%. In 2001 Italian exports to Russia increased by 41% relative to the year 2000, although the growth of Russian exports to Italy was insignificant. Russia is a major partner of Italy in the supply of energy resources.
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