Silvio Berlusconi’s 7 billion dollar empire and the uncertain future of his business

Silvio Berlusconi

In the list of the richest men in Italy compiled by ForbesSilvio Berlusconi ranked third, with a total net worth estimated at $7 billion.

Ahead of the former Italian prime minister, who died this Monday at the age of 86, were only Giovanni Ferrero, the main shareholder of the food giant of the same name with 39.7 billion dollars, and, in second place, Giorgio Armani, with a heritage of 11.4 billion dollars.

“Silvio Berlusconi built the Fininvest media group, transforming it into a national powerhouse and importing American shows like Baywatch into Italy,” the business magazine writes.

The Finivnest Empire

Finivnest, a holding company with a turnover of 5,000 million and more than 20,000 employees, is actually the “safe” that keeps the main treasures of the former prime minister’s family. This holding represents 60% of the tycoon’s empire, which will now have to be divided among his five children.

The television business has long been the crown jewel of the family.

In this sense, the most important “treasure” of Finivnest, not only in economic terms but also in emotional terms, is the television conglomerate Mediaset (now called MediaforEuropeMfe). This is a group whose foundations Berlusconi laid at the end of the 1970s with the acquisition of the local Telemilano channel.

Mediaset registered a consolidated net income of 2,914 million, 11 percent more than in 2020, with a net profit of 374 million, 169 percent more than the previous year and almost double the pre-covid figure in 2019.

Other assets are the majority stake in Mondadori, the largest publisher of books and magazines in Italy and the third largest consumer magazine operator in France; it also has the most extensive network of bookstores in the country.

To this we must add a 30% share -equivalent to 1,850 million dollars- in Banco Mediolanum, a leading institution in the Italian financial market with 1,129,000 clients, 70,700 million euros administered and managed, 2,171 employees.

Berlusconi was also still active in football with Monza, a club bought by Berlusconi after the sale of Ac Milan, and which in a few years took him from series C to series A.

A large part of the real estate assets, including the most famous residences such as Arcore or Villa Grande, is owned by the Dolcedrago company, wholly owned by Berlusconi.

The succession

The future of Berlusconi’s business interests will likely depend on how he has decided to distribute his Fininvest stake among his five children from two marriages. His eldest daughter, Marina, is expected to play a leading role.

Currently, the two children from his first marriage, Marina and Pier Silvio, hold 8% each and those of his second, BárbaraLuigi and Eleonora, add up to 22%.

Marina (born August 1966) and Pier Silvio (April 1969), have been directly involved in running Berlusconi’s companies since shortly after their father made his entry into Italian politics in the early 1990s.

Marina, who chairs Fininvest, has overseen the Mondadori publishing house, while Pier Silvio has taken care of the television business.

three minor children

Barbara (July 1984), Eleonora (May 1986) and Luigi (September 1988), have not held such prominent executive roles in the management of their father’s companies.

Luigi took on the task of representing his part of the family at Fininvest, where he is a board member, thanks to his specialization in finance and wealth management.

People close to the family described Silvio Berlusconi as “the glue” that held their children together, despite their age range and their different attitudes and ambitions.

The big question is whether the family unit will be able to sustain itself after Berlusconi’s departure and what impact it could have on the future of the television business on which Berlusconi built his fortune.


In recent years, Fininvest has sold off assets it no longer considered strategic, from AC Milan to stakes in biotech company Molmed and Italian business bank Mediobanca.

Mediaset‘s top management, its board of directors Pier Silvio Berlusconi and the president Fedele Confalonieri decided, in order to consolidate the accounts, to sell a historical newspaper like Il Giornale despite the fact that Silvio was against it.

The family-holding company has confirmed its commitment to its television business, supporting its growth plans in Europe to resist the American streaming giants through mergers and acquisitions.

But it remains to be seen whether this ambition will be sustained after the founder’s death.

Analysts are watching in particular the movements of the Vivendi group, Mediaset‘s French partner that for years battled to gain control of the group before relinquishing it after a deal sealed in 2021.

The Berlusconi family owns 47.9 percent of the capital of Mediaset by nominal value, a participation that is around 700 million on the Stock Market, while the Vivendi group has 23.2 percent.

Having a strong partner like Vivendi at Mediaset could prove insidious for the Berlusconi family, as the French group could take advantage of the slightest sign of disunity in the Italian family to take control of the business. In the event, for example, that some of the former premier’s children are inclined to sell shares to Vivendi and others are not.