Beppe Grillo's speech at Telecom Italia shareholders' meeting


Telecom Italia shareholders' meeting 16 April 2007.
Beppe Grillo's speech.

A simple analysis of this year's balance sheets shows that the privatisation of Telecom Italia has stripped the company of thousands of millions of receipts, of tens of thousands of jobs and has transferred into Chinese boxes a large chunk of the profits by means of dividends.
It's easy to do this analysis, you just need a book-keeper. You don't need Consob or the Government or an audit company. Presumed managers with patched up trousers got the company into debt with the help of the banks and the total absence of the Consob and the State so that they could act exclusively in their own interests.
The network is in a shocking condition. At least ten thousand million Euro are needed for initial investments.
Today however, I don't want to talk about numbers, but of something else: about industrial espionage, about the Consob, about the Chinese boxes and the Stock Exchange, the Chicago of the 1920s of Guido Rossi.
Guess who is Al Capone?

Tens of thousands of people have been spied upon. Among these are economic journalists like Massimo Mucchetti because of his analysis of Telecom management, members of the Telecom Board of Directors, company administrators, like Colao of RCS before he was sacked, simple citizens because they sent letters protesting about the malfunctioning of the network sent to Tronchetti and also to a comic, the one talking to you, with a "B.Grillo" dossier.
Milan's Re-examination Tribunal last February wrote: "The Security of Telecom-Pirelli has had at its disposal a resource that easily allowed it to get privileged news in the interests of the group, understood as both a legal entity as well as the group of directors" and it revealed that: "the vastness of the unmerited intrusion into the secrets of the lives of others has been displayed in a really alarming system of acquiring private information to be used against important persons in enterprise, in journalism, in Italian politics, before meetings that top management had programmed with these people."

The people formerly responsible for Telecom security: Tavaroli, Ghioni and other are already in prison. One of their colleagues, Adamo Bove apparently committed suicide and his father, Vincenzo Bove, claims the death was due to the calumny carefully crafted in Telecom.
The top management of Telecom is here. They are Carlo Orazio Buora, Marco Tronchetti Provera, Riccardo Ruggiero. I ask them: "to whom was the Security service accountable? To the doorkeeper at Pirelli? Where were you?"
Let's suppose that the top management knew nothing. Everything is possible. However, after proof of this level of managerial incompetence, the top management should have been kicked out, or they should have resigned, as was customary in the past, and they should not let themselves ever be seen again.
But they are still here. Why are they still here? Perhaps there are some dossiers all over the world about our politicians?

Or perhaps because the genii in the bottle Tronchetti was both the president, and the controlling shareholder of the same company and couldn't sack himself? A person who controls the biggest company in the country with 0.11 per cent of the shares.
So I thought that with 0.12 per cent I could get control of Telecom, sack the Board of Directors and then give back the company to the legitimate shareholders, holding 82% of the shares. I launched a request to see how much interest there is to delegate to me on behalf of the small shareholders.
Consob acted straight away by sending me a series of letters to explain the process to be followed and warning me not to make a mistake.
I have received thousands of letters of support, but the process is so bureaucratic and complex that I haven't managed to represent them in this meeting.
However, I want to reassure the Consob that I will succeed next time whether or not they like it. What is Consob? Where has Consob been in the last few years?
Parmalat, Cirio, Banca Popolare di Lodi and the obvious conflict of interests between companies with the same people on the Board of Directors that buy and sell from themselves as has happened between Telecom Italia and Pirelli Real Estate with the sale of property.

Does Lamberto Cardia, Consob's president really exist? Where are you apart from in the letters that you send to me and to Antonio Di Pietro? Many small shareholders would like to meet you personally to ask you a few questions.
The Italian Stock Exchange is a place where you can invest everything that you can loose. Not a euro more. These days the market is the buzz word. But in Italy, what is the market?
A club of people who live in the Boards of Directors and who decide everything, some of whom are members of 5 or 6 or 7 Boards of Directors. People who have control of big companies with percentages like telephone pre-fixes. Once more I ask Consob why Olimpia exists. It's an empty box of which 80% is owned by Pirelli. Olimpia controls Telecom Italia.

Should it not be encompassed with all its debts back into Pirelli? Dear President Cardia can you explain to me, a simple book-keeper who is a comic, why this has not happened?
Where is the famous public company that the politicians were so full of? The small shareholders do not have a real capacity for representation.
What does the government intend to do about that? And the associations for the defence of the consumer, where are they? Under the oval table?
As Telecom is a service company, let those who have capital and ideas manage it. No Italian entrepreneur has both these qualities.
But the network infrastructure belongs to the State, the fruit of generations of Italians who have paid through taxes and line rental.
Tronchetti wants to get America Movil and AT&T to pay him for the controlling position and in the handover to get 3 Euro for the Olimpia shares when the value of the shares is only 2.3 euro. He gets the cash. The small shareholders can stand and watch.
The State should put down some firm guidelines before this happens and don't talk to me of the sacredness of the market. What market? The fish market is much more respectable than the Stock Exchange with the current regulations.

The network should be separated from the services and made available to everyone. Whoever buys 66% of Olimpia will have 12% of the shares and must have only 12% of the power. Not a fraction more. The Chinese boxes should be abolished or the tax regime should make them no longer fruitful.
I would like to close this speech with an appeal to the dignity of the top management in Telecom: resign. That's the best service that you can do for the company and for the country.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:40 PM in | Comments (16)
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Ho messo su youtube l'intervista al nostro Beppe fatta da EURONEWS...

Posted by: Piergiorgio Zambrini | September 20, 2007 08:49 PM

Take a look at the track record page of That's very good trading.

Posted by: jamessmith | July 19, 2007 07:40 AM

Take a look at the track record page of That's very good trading.

Posted by: jamessmith | July 19, 2007 07:39 AM

Take a look at the track record page of That's very good trading.

Posted by: jamessmith | July 19, 2007 07:38 AM


I agree with the points you make. The differences between the two countries are many--and include many economic aspects. In fact, so many that I did not even attempt to list them. You are correct: my post was far from being a complete analysis. In my defence, I would say that I didn´t even try ;)

The starting question (which my post was addressing) was a debate about work hours and taxation differences. From that topic, I added something about productivity. But you´re right, there´s much more than that.

As for change, I think some cultures are much more open to change and some societies are structured in a way that makes change less difficult to implement. I see the US as much more open to change than Italy, for example.

Given that the results seem to leave very few Italians happy, it should follow that Italy should be most open to change at this particular point in time. Yet, however keen Italians may be, I think the likelyhood of change really happening is low. For cultural reasons, agreeing on the direction of the change will be very hard for Italians. The system does the rest.

(The system is too favorable for those in power to desire or even allow a change...)

The status quo, however, is becoming unsustainable and a shakeup is eventually in the order. So, I agree with your point about the environment leading to change.

The question, in my opinion, is: what will be the spark that leads to it? My expectation is that in Italy a sudden shakeup in the face of a crisis is more likely than a smooth transition resulting from the normal functioning of the democratic process. Of course, I hope history will prove me wrong.

By the way, have you ever been to San Diego?

Posted by: Dave Matthews | April 19, 2007 12:27 AM

I do agree with most of your thoughts, however let me point out that a number of other aspects have to be considered; your analysis is incomplete, sorry.

US economy is , de facto, stronger than Italy's one due to a combination of factors; let's try to bullet point some of them:

- in the US people care about their job , in average, more than in Italy. True. Italians instead try to find a balance between work and private life, which of course doesn't help economy.

- raw materials!!: Italy has close-to-nothing raw materials resources.. if you then look at the most valuable ones (gold, oil, etc etc) it's a nightmare. So Italy has to buy, whereas US can buy, use or sell, making good profit - trust we can all agree on this.

- wars. Cannot recall a modern large scale war within US perimeters. Italy has had only in this century 2 world wars in its territories. This had obvious huges impact on economies - part of the country had to be rebuild 2 times...

- italy has been, over the last centuries, a country with different dominations: germans, frech, arabs, austrians, northmen and others. I can grant you that short term dominations have negative impact on both culture and economics; not to mention what has been taken away as vacation gifts...
Of course Italy is not alone here..

- the vatican: its influence. Has the power to heavily affect italian's political, social and economical decisions.

- in italy we have several nato/us military bases . See this link:
Doesn't that list and map tell you anything? do you think that degree of freedom and economy direction & objectives setting can actually be decided in full within our government?

In other words, you'll hardly change the culture of italians (btw, would you be able to change the culture in sweden or anywhere else?) directly, we'd rather make sure we create an environment that inspires change - people will than change naturally, organically. Such a change happened already in the past (read about what happened here during 18th and 19th centuries), I wonder if today, given the above bullet points, it's still possible..

Don't take me wrong - I love NY - I'd probably live in SF for years - but let's compare apples to apples...!

Posted by: Lucio Gagarin | April 18, 2007 09:15 PM

Hi Joe,

I think work hours and taxation are relevant issues.

Regarding working hours, I think productivity is even more important than the raw number of hours worked. What gets done and how much value is added during those hours is what really matters.

But there are scores of other reasons to sustain your point, that the US economy is better than Italy´s.

In fact, I think Italy is a concentrate of pretty much all that should not happen. The country has been living on borrowed time, though and it will eventually (sooner, rather than later) have to face the consequences. It has borrowed itself out of trouble--and invariable wasted the money borrowed. It has gotten to a point where this option will soon disappear: too much debt has already been piled up.

At present I have a feeling there are some lingering problems with the US economy as well... But, if the US economy gets into trouble--all others will get more of the same, including Italy, which is in a more precarious situation than most. So, even in this case, the US is better than Italy.

Now I´m in Europe but I do not exclude going to China in the future.

I think India is a very good place too. If you´re adventurous, you could just pack up and go and look for a job when you´re there. I have read about people who did this--usu Americans, Brits or Ozzies... Even if you find some not-so-wonderful job at first, just the experience will be very valuable.

It´s a huge market and European and Italian companies are sure going to be interested in exporting or producing there. A year or two of experience living there is likely to be very valuable later on. It could also make your resume stand out--and make any career gaps (if any) become irrelevant.

But I would suggest you do research and read about the country and culture. There are some cultural issues you should be aware of.

I think Indians are a great people, but negotiating with them can be quite extenuating and it is useful to have a framework of reference...

In any case, I think India is an interesting option.

Or you can also play the green card lottery for the US, check out the point-system immigration for Canada or Australia to see if you would qualify. Or find some place in Europe, where you do not need a visa.

There are options. Where to try your luck depends on many factors, not least what you are interested in.

Trying your luck in places like India or China presents two advantages: the countries are huge and opportunities are growing; and also the cost of living is not prohibitive (should actually be low in both places). This means that if it does not work out too well, you will not have gone broke trying.

In any case, leaving Italy is, in my opinion, a good idea.


Posted by: Dave Matthews | April 18, 2007 02:05 AM

Ciao Joe,

I replied to your post before.
It must be in some previous room.

Gosh, your messages are long!


Posted by: dave matthews | April 18, 2007 12:55 AM

I agee with Antonio.

Nothing will change until the system collapses. Then, it will change for the worse.

Posted by: Dave Matthews | April 18, 2007 12:14 AM

Hi all,

Since a few days I've started reading Grillo's blog, starting from the english section which should, I repeat should, generate viewpoints or people who live outside Italy. And that, most probably, don't know Italy's story, the story of the people that built this country, fathers of those who today are living here honestly and, indeed, also of those who live very differently.

That being said, I fail to understand how those people, with very limited insight or knowledge (except what they read on newspapers or hear at the news, which I'll abstain from commenting, no need for that right?) can produce such firm, sometimes cruel, sarcastic and partial statements about Italy and italians.

Yes, sorry, I fail to understand; I am italian, and only god knows how I (well) know all the defects we have (just like all the others, be serious and honest with yourself) and how good we have been at leading our economical and politcal conditions into something that, some, would probably call a black hole. A point of no return.

I also know italians; there is a whole army of people with good will, honest, those who contributed to build the good part of Italy. Are we denying this? Obviously any discussion, by human nature, get more exiting and involving if talking about negative aspects.
Luckly, I'm not standing at the negative side, no matter I know how bad the situation is.

To conclude, if you want to be our Muzio Scevola (search the internet to know who he was) do it, but suggest you keep your hand firm if you really want to be credible in what you say.

Posted by: Lucio Gagarin | April 17, 2007 09:33 PM

I think the real problem is not the italian culture, or the expression of it.
I am reading interesting articles in the wikipedia about the contrast between 2 different "world orders":
1 - capitalism
2 - planned economy
Clearly we are living now in the era of system 1, a system where the keywords are "growth","freedom" and unbalance. Some theories predict that after prosperity there will be a decline.
By contrast system 2 favors equilibrium and stability, not growth and recession.
It's like the difference of producing a lot of food and eating it all in a crazy party; the day after you know that you can't continue like this.
It's difficult for me to express ideas clearly, just want to say that Beppe Grillo is great, for me he is smarter than many politicians which uses a lot of empty words. In this historical period is not the italians and their cultural who are ruining Italy itself; it is the new world order which is slowly covering all the world spreading from its nucleus, the usa.
A final word to the once was best system of the world, Sweden and the scandinavian countries; they are also being slowly covered by the shadow without their citizens even realizing what's going on; but at some point we all will wake up and see the black cloud surrounding us.
Companies, corporations, private interests, read this carefully, "private interests"!!! They are deciding what's good for you and me; they can theoretically start to sell you soon the air that you breathe, because also that is a public (and still free!) resource which can soon be privatized as it already happened with the water!
We live in a common space, private interests go the improvement of the small little private space at the expense of the bigger space where most of the people live.
Grazie Beppe, you give us hope!

Posted by: Castore Devin | April 17, 2007 09:21 PM

Sorry, I can't resist, I know I said that I wouldn't write here anymore, but I have to.

Even if Beppe was right, and Telecom is mismanaged by the Chinese boxes, showing this to the public won't change nothing, exactly as the "mani pulite" (clear hands) investigation in the nineties didn't change anything, it is exactly the same Italy as before, worse and getting worse.

The top managers and politician of italy ARE THE EXPRESSION OF A CULTURE, product of million of agents (italian citizens) behaving in a certain manner, which I already explained in my previous posts.

You won't change or improve the system from the top, in a traumatic approach. It can only happening in an "evolutionary manner" working on how the single agents of the system (the italians) think and behave. The emerging organisation, even at the top level of the system, is a function of exactly THAT.

Hitting the latest mafia boss, or corrupted manager or incompetent or thief politician, DOESN'T bring anything, only some fuss on the media, if the million of agents (the italians) don't change behaviour.

Whant to change Italy? The only place where you can look is:

But this is WAAAYYY to much for any "wannabe savior of the country". As a conclusion, no inspired individual is in sight (not even Grillo) to start such a movement from the bottom, it will be triggered automatically when the whole italian system will be completeny unbalanced and will collapse, and will search for a new equilibrium.

The only event I can think of which will trigger this, is bankruptcy.

Sorry, I am right.

Posted by: Antonio Disarò | April 17, 2007 04:14 PM

Italy is a Banana Republic.

Posted by: Dave Matthews | April 17, 2007 03:40 PM

Ora arriveranno ad imbandire polpette e frittelle avvelenate. Se ti allei con Cusani, forse, le schivi. Attento anche ai piccoli azionisti, che non sono migliori di quelli grandi.

Posted by: mario co | April 17, 2007 06:24 AM

Beppe sei un mito. Gliele hai cantate come se le meritano. Questa Italia deve cambiare o patira' delle situazioni ancora peggiori.

Posted by: Giuseppe Taibi | April 17, 2007 02:51 AM

great Beppe!!
I had tears in my eyes watching you speaking to the telecom Cda!!
And thanks for the translation! I will use it to try to explain this thing to my english-speaking friends!
(well they speak and write english better than I do, of course :-)

Posted by: luca tubiana | April 17, 2007 12:36 AM

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