Exploring Italy’s Strategies to Reduce Chinese Influence on Pirelli Tire Maker


As tensions between China and Western countries are rising, Italy is exploring ways to limit the influence of Sinochem, China’s state-owned energy and chemical company, over Pirelli SpA, the Italian tire maker. Talks are underway with Pirelli investors over the company’s ownership structure and options being considered include restricting the access of board members appointed by Sinochem to certain information as well as curbing their voting rights. The Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni faces a delicate dilemma in balancing ties with China as the country is the only G7 nation that has signed a memorandum of understanding with China on its Belt and Road initiative.

Pirelli is a tire maker that specializes in high technology tires and supply to super car makers, among other partners. The company recently informed the Italian government of the intention to renew a shareholder pact between Sinochem and Camfin, the financial holding of Pirelli’s CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera, which if passed needs to adhere to certain golden power rules. Considering this, Italy has the potential to intervene in Pirelli and the options being considered would not alter the current shareholding structure and is meant to keep China’s ability to impact decisions at the Italian tire maker in check.

Pirelli is an Italian manufacturer of tires and related services founded in 1872 by Giovanni Battista Pirelli. Over the years, it has developed into a global business with a presence in around 160 countries and 21 production facilities. The company is renowned for its high-end tire performance and sustainability, evident in the industry’s first environmental management system, pioneered by Pirelli in 1992. Pirelli is a world leader in high performance tires, developed at their Rome and Milan research centers. They are one of Formula 1’s longest-standing partners, and are trusted by supercar makers such as Bugatti, Rimac, Lamborghini, and Maserati.

Marco Tronchetti Provera is the CEO of Pirelli and also the financial holding, Camfin. He is an Italian businessman and entrepreneur who joined Pirelli in 1984, becoming CFO by 1986 and later rising to CEO. Under his leadership, Pirelli blossomed into a major player in the tire industry, investing heavily in technology, product quality, and sustainability. He also created the first environmental management system in 1992 and the first winter certifications for both cars and motorcycles. Among his honors, he was awarded the Legion of Honor (Grand Officier in 2017) by the French Republic.