BlackRock puts money back in Italian firms

ASSET management giant BlackRock has put money back into Italy after technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti began pushing through a series of austerity measures.

The world’s largest money manager is overweight on Italy following the fall of Silvio Berlusconi, efforts to cut the public debt and planned labour reforms to boost competitiveness.

Nigel Bolton, head of the European Equity Style Diversified Team, who runs about $14.6bn (£9.19bn), said Italy’s banks now “look more interesting”.

He told Bloomberg: “We’ve gone back overweight Italy, after having had virtually nothing there for a number of years.

“As the direct result of Berlusconi going, we started to put money back into Italy and it’s our second-biggest overweight country in Europe.”

Yesterday Monti called for his proposed labour reforms to be passed swiftly as he prepared for a parliamentary campaign to pass measures that would make it easier for companies to fire employees.

The government has spent several months negotiating with employers, workers’ organisations and parties over the initial agreement. The deal was criticised, however, by the CGIL, Italy’s largest union, which said it would lead to an avalanche of layoffs.

A scandal-weary Berlusconi quit in November as bond yields hit euro-era records.