Mediobanca prize

Awarded to companies which stand out for their high growth rates and good profitability

The purpose of this initiative was to recognize Italian companies forming part of the so-called "fourth capitalism" which were the most dynamic and therefore the most likely to grow and become large enterprises. Apart from growth in turnover, priority was given to those companies which stood out in terms of their governance, internal organization, focus on process and product innovation, and market share both in Italy and elsewhere.

From 2007 (first edition) to 2011, two prizes were awarded to companies (industrial or companies providing services with industrial content) which had posted an increase in turnover of no less than 40% and with net profitability no less than 4% of sales. The first prize was awarded to a company with consolidated sales not exceeding €330m and a workforce of no more than 499 staff; while the second prize was awarded to a company exceeding both the above restrictions but whit sales which did not exceed €3bn. Participation in the competition was governed by the prize's Regulations.

The candidates were selected by the Mediobanca Research Department on the basis of indicators which could be established objectively through the annual survey of Leading Italian companies, and then profiles were drown up which were submitted to a technical committee consisting of independent members. The committee then decided which companies would be awarded the prizes, and their decision was final. The prizes were awarded by the senior management of Mediobanca at a ceremony held at the Bank's headquarters. The successful companies' business histories can be downloaded from this website.

F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions

What does the term "fourth capitalism" mean?

The fourth capitalism refers to companies of intermediate size, i.e. neither large nor small, which are generally distinguished by having an international presence and in part at least have links to local production systems. Please refer to the bibliography on the fourth capitalism.

What are the limits of the fourth capitalism?

The fourth capitalism comprises the intermediate bracket in terms of company size, between small businesses and large groups. Traditionally it encompasses both medium-sized companies (which according to the Mediobanca-Unioncamere definition are joint stock companies with a workforce of between 50 and 499 staff and a turnover of between €16m and €355m, and the first bracket of large scale enterprise (companies with more than 499 staff and turnover of below €3bn). These are not absolute limits, but they may be taken as a basis for ensuring rigour in terms of empirical research carried out on this group of companies.

Who are the main protagonists of the fourth capitalism?

The most important companies are regularly covered by the Research Department of Mediobanca, which publishes data on individual companies in its Leading Italian Companies publication and on aggregates in Financial Aggregates for Italian Companies. Details on medium-size companies (e.g. concentrations in districts and local production systems) may also be found in the annual Mediobanca-Unioncamere surveys of medium-size businesses.

Is the fourth capitalism a residual phenomenon?

No. Taken together, the companies that go to make up the fourth capitalism derive from the gradual transformation of Italian industry driven by global competition and declining performances by the largest Italian industrial groups. The origins of the phenomenon may be traced to the 1970s, and the key end-markets for it are European countries, largely those in the Eurozone, and more recently Eastern European countries. The companies of the fourth capitalism tend to produce in facilities located in Italy (chiefly in North-East, Central and North-West Italy), and are distinguished by their quality, and those of intermediate size in particular for their customer service.

Is it fair to describe the fourth capitalism as an Italian miracle?

No. Miracles are defined as extraordinary phenomena which cannot be explained on the basis of existing knowledge. The emergence and structure of the fourth capitalism is entirely ordinary as a phenomenon, and functions according to well-known laws.

Is the fourth capitalism a niche phenomenon?

The commercial model of the companies should not be confused with the relevance of the phenomenon itself. The companies of the fourth capitalism tend to specialize in terms of individual products, which are placed in market niches deliberately created in order to defend positions against both manufacturers in low-cost countries and large-size multinationals, which are able to leverage on economies of scale and relocated production facilities. An approximate valuation of the phenomenon, based on the individual companies, would come to roughly a quarter of national Italian manufacturing production, or 1.7x the contribution of the largest Italian-controlled groups; this rises goes up to 40-50% if affiliated industries are also included. As is well known, the manufacturing segment is chiefly comprised of companies that are small in size (around half a million in 2005), mostly organized into local production systems and clusters - partly attributable to the "filières" of the fourth capitalism companies themselves - which generate by far the largest share of Italy's foreign trade surplus.


Terms and conditions and prize description

Business histories



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