The tide might be turning for former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
A year ago, the 81-year-old billionaire politician was out of power and locked in battle. Banned from public office after a 2013 conviction for tax fraud, the former four-time Italian prime minister was campaigning against then-Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi’s proposed reforms, while his fortune languished near a five-year low.
Then a fight over control of his broadcaster Mediaset SpA broke out with French billionaire Vincent Bollore.
The struggle spurred investor interest in Mediaset, driving up the share price, and Berlusconi got a further political boost last month when his Forza Italia party won a center-right coalition victory, positioning him for a potential return to power.
With help from a rally in Italian equities, the self-described “most persecuted man in history” has seen his net worth rise 36.9 percent from Nov. 28 last year, when Vivendi’s chief content officer touted the company’s possible alliance with Mediaset as a way for European media companies to compete with US rivals.
Berlusconi, who is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights against the ban on holding office, has seen his net worth rise to US$8.4 billion, the best performance in the period among the five Italians on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 500 richest people.
A spokesman for Berlusconi’s Milan-based investment firm, Fininvest SpA declined to comment on his net worth.
Closely held Fininvest has stakes in media, biotechnology and finance, including his two largest holdings, Mediaset, which had a total return of 43 percent since Nov. 28 last year, and Mediobanca SpA, which rose 62 percent.
Italian equities are up 42 percent in the same period, despite an economy that is still struggling with high unemployment, rising poverty and a strained financial system.
Berlusconi, who sold Italian Serie A soccer team AC Milan to Chinese investors in April for 740 million euros (US$788 million), faces a new trial in February, ahead of Italy’s national elections.
Last month he was indicted for allegedly bribing a witness to give false testimony about allegations he held “bunga bunga” sex parties and hired an underage Moroccan prostitute.
He denies wrongdoing.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday