Mediobanca, medium-sized Italian companies: turnover grew by 6.3% in 2022, 59% looking for PNRR opportunities

TheMediobanca Studies Area, Unioncamere and the Guglielmo Tagliacarne Study Center submit the Report “Leader of change: Italian medium-sized companies in the fifth industrial revolution”.

Bounce from income of 2021 (+ 19%) and growth prospects also for 2022 (+ 6.3%). More than 60% of medium-sized companies plan to invest in 4.0 and green technologies in the next three years; 52% who have already done so expect to exceed pre-Covid production levels this year. There is no inferiority compared to foreign counterparts who are effectively less productive, so much so that in 10 years some 210 average domestic companies have passed into foreign hands. This is the identikit of medium-sized Italian industrial companies focused on the XXI Report dedicated to them.

Unioncamere, Prete: “Italian medium-sized industrial companies are the backbone of Italian family capitalism”

The universe of 3,174 change-leading companies is also ready to take advantage of the growth opportunities arising from the PNRR: 59% of medium-sized companies have already been activated or are preparing to do so. Looking to the future, however, generational change runs the risk of slowing down their progress: for 1 in 4 companies, the transition has either not been completed or is a real obstacle.

“Italian medium-sized industrial companies are the backbone of Italian family capitalism, as evidenced by the experience of the last 25 years. They can rightly be defined as the locomotive of our entrepreneurial system, which represent a factor of resilience and continuous modernization of the system. productive., thanks to a high capacity for investment in the dual green and digital transition, with respect to which human capital represents the most important intangible asset. ” President of UnioncamerI, Andrea Pretewho added “the analysis we have done together with Mediobanca, therefore, denies, with the evidence of the figures, several topics about the family governance of companies, which when accompanied by an adequate strategic and managerial projection , represents a model of undoubted success “.

“More than 25 years of better performance than the entire national economy, confirmed and strengthened in the crises of the last fifteen years, allow our medium-sized manufacturing companies to confidently face scenarios that remain uncertain and challenging,” he stated. Gabriele Barbaresco, director of Mediobanca’s Research Area.

“The growth strategy of our company, even when it involves the acquisition of other companies, aims to enhance the history of the management of the previous owner to take into account the entrepreneurial drive of each reality, but inserting in a broader strategic context and market of opportunities “. This is what he has stressed Giandomenico Auricchio, CEO of Gennaro Auricchio SpA

In 2021 turnover recovered 19%

After the rise in turnover in 2021 (+ 19%) and the growth prospects also for 2022 (+ 6.3%), the average Italian manufacturing companies face the uncertainties of the economic situation, reinforced by a history which has seen them improve. than the rest of the economy in the most turbulent times. According to a performance indicator, they have gained a 34.1% advantage over GDP since 1996, most of which developed since 2009.

Compared to the large Italian manufacturing companies, in the same period, the averages recorded better performance from many points of view: they obtained more than double the growth in turnover (+ 108.8% vs + 64.4%) , increased productivity. (+ 53% vs + 38.6%) and better remuneration for guaranteed work (+ 62.4% vs + 57%). These are successes achieved with a significant expansion of the employment base (+ 39.8% vs. -12.5%) that have made it a truly inclusive and participatory capitalist model, to allow medium-sized companies to settle. Productivity is also in fact 21.5% higher than that of its German and French counterparts, an unusual result if we consider that our manufacturing industry as a whole is lagging behind by 17, 9% with respect to the same countries. It is no coincidence that they have attracted the attention of foreigners: today we would have about 210 more if they had not passed during the last decade under the control of foreign shareholders, a quarter of whom are German and French.

Medium-sized companies: a resource “in” the country, but open to international markets

A peculiar aspect of medium-sized enterprises is the fact that wealth and employment occur mainly in Italy. 88.2% do not have a production site abroad and only 3% carry out more than 50% of the production in foreign plants. The issue of re-shoring therefore seems irrelevant to these companies, which, on the other hand, are actively involved in global value chains: 88.8% use foreign suppliers, obtaining an average of 25% of their supplies. . In addition, the share of sales abroad is equal to 43.2% of turnover.

Medium-sized companies outperform large ones, despite a worse tax

The returns achieved by medium-sized companies are even more favorable if we take into account that they have been achieved in a context that is not always favorable. This is the case of the tax authorities: the effective tax rate for medium-sized companies is now around 21.5% compared to 17.5% for large companies, but in the past the spread was even wider, exceeding 8 points. in 2011. If in the ‘last decade, medium-sized companies had had the same tax burden as large companies would have obtained more resources for 6.5 billion euros. A monstrous figure that would have meant a greater endowment of own funds of 6.7% or a greater volume of investments by an amount of 10.6%. On the other hand, compared to foreign competitors, our medium-sized companies are perceived as disadvantaged precisely in terms of cost structure (50.5%), the efficiency of the Public Administration (30.2 %) and the quality of infrastructure equipment. of the country (22%).

One in two companies has solved the generational handover and benefits from innovation

47.2% of medium-sized companies have resolved the generational handover while 17.4% face it, but have not finished the process. For 26.2% the issue is not on the agenda because the heirs are too young, but the remaining 9.2% have objective difficulties in having to deal with the lack of heirs, their excessive number or the disagreements between shareholders. In short, for 1 in 4 companies, the transition is not perfect or represents a real obstacle. A significant 32.5% of medium-sized companies take the opportunity to join external managers during the generational change. Procrastinating the issue, however, is not the solution, as the lack of intergenerational rotation runs the risk of penalizing growth. Medium-sized companies with generational problems will invest less in management training in the 2022-24 triennium to innovate business models (38% vs 50% in the case of those without problems), less in process and organizational innovation (64% % vs 71%) and in product innovation and marketing (47% vs 61%).

PNRR: 59% of medium-sized companies focus on the Plan

59% of medium-sized companies focus on PNRR: 40% have already activated projects to directly support entrepreneurial systems, while 19% plan to do so.

However, there is another 41% who do not believe they can take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Plan.

There are both internal and external factors that drive more to take action in this direction. The first concerns human capital: up to 72% of medium-sized companies that invest in management training to innovate their business models have already moved (or plan to do so) in PNRR projects, a percentage that drops to 46% for those not
they invest in managerial skills. The second is the relationship with institutions and universities, especially when both actors are involved: 74% of medium-sized companies that have relations with both institutions and universities have already activated (or plan to do so) PNRR projects, compared to just over 60.% in cases where relations are only with institutions or only with universities and 52% in cases where the company does not collaborate with either party.

The double digital and green transition makes companies more resilient: 52% expect to exceed pre-Covid production levels

52% of medium-sized companies that have invested in the double digital and ecological transition in the last five years expect to exceed pre-Covid production levels in 2022. A share that drops to 35% in the case of those that have invested only in digital and 31% for companies that have focused only on green, up to 21% where no investment has been made in this direction. An element of competitiveness that medium-sized companies seem to be aware of: in fact, more than 60% expect to invest in 4.0 and green technologies in the 2022-24 triennium, while only 15% expect to focus only on the digital transition and another 13% only in green. Management and training also play a key role in terms of investments in Dual Transition where medium-sized family-run companies have a lower propensity than those of external managers (60% vs 66%). The gap, however, widens when the company invests in training family executives to innovate business models.

Technological advancement, attention to the environment, but also social sustainability rewards medium-sized companies: 62% invest in business welfare, 61% involve their employees in innovation activities (new processes, products and organizational methods of the company, etc.), 51% in the quality of the human relations and 51% collaborate with the sector of the culture to increase the well-being of the territory. Even observing the behavior of companies that co-innovate with their employees, it turns out that those that encourage their participation in the development of innovative projects show a greater capacity for productive resilience: 48% expect to exceed the pre-existing. levels in 2022. -Covid, compared to 36% of those who do not take this initiative.

The multiple positive profiles of medium-sized companies should not elude the important challenges that remain on the ground. The need to align with ESG requirements returns the focus to governance. Some good practices are still limited in circulation: the code of self-discipline is adopted by 35.3%, the presence of independent directors on the board is limited to 24.8%. The existence of a CEO outside the family occurs in 16.8% of cases and is associated with more advanced training (undergraduate or graduate in 71.2% of cases vs. 49.7% of the CEO of the family) and a younger age (55.6 years vs. 59.9). . In addition, under the pressure of the turmoil of the last two years, medium-sized companies give high priority to the introduction of new managerial skills (46.2%) and consider it necessary to accelerate the generational transition (33%). The intention to make acquisitions appears in 34.4% of the agendas of the entrepreneurs. Instrumental for this last objective, but also for the previous ones, appears the option to open the capital to new financial or industrial partners (15.8%), until the point to contemplate the hypothesis of total sale of the company 7.3%). These initiatives are consistent with the goal of achieving an adequate size to compete with international competitors (formulated by 55.3% of companies), given that our medium-sized companies do not perceive any form of inferiority to them in the ‘know-how’. but some delays in ‘knowing how to sell’ (19.3% of companies).

Geopolitical uncertainty jeopardizes the continuity of supplies and medium-sized companies seek to address this through a combination of diversification in the number of suppliers (79.7%) and an increase in local suppliers (29.8%), including national (27.4%). . On the other hand, it seems that the reduction of suppliers is not practiced acting on their loyalty (12.2%) or their acquisition to integrate them (4.6%). Therefore, it seems likely that there is a phenomenon of supplier rapprochement.

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