Views of the new bridge designed by Renzo Piano in place of the Morandi bridge. The steel viaduct is 1067 meters long in 19 spans and is 40 meters high.New bridge over the Polcevera, built after the collapse of Morandi in 2018, Genoa, Italy - 28 Apr 2020

Benetton’s chief executive officer Massimo Renon and a number of its employees took a full page ad in Italian daily paper Corriere della Sera on Monday to show their support to the company’s founding family.

The ad stated “Proud to work for the Benetton family” and layered on the company’s logo the names of over 120 employees “in representation of all the 7,500 passionate collaborators in the world.” Renon, who joined the firm in April from Marcolin, additionally signed the advertising page.

As reported, the public debate surrounding the Benetton family recently reignited as the Italian government decided to take control of Autostrade per l’Italia, or Aspi, which is the prime Italian highway player and is 88 percent owned by infrastructure company Atlantia. The Benetton family’s holding company Edizione controls 30.25 percent of Atlantia.

The government reached an agreement with the Benettons after almost two years, following the collapse of a section of the Morandi bridge in Genoa in August 2018, which caused 43 deaths, the evacuation of hundreds of people, and heavy structural damages. Opened in 1967 and part of the A10 highway linking the French and Italian rivieras, the bridge was maintained and operated by Aspi.

Reached by WWD for further comment on the advertising page, the firm released a statement affirming that “in the past days many employees urged the company to take action to show proximity to Luciano Benetton and the family in a moment in which it’s been obvious to everyone [that there has been] a political manipulation and an exaggerated doggedness.”

“Massimo Renon played as a catalyst of the idea and, in short time, he gathered the adhesion of all heads of departments in representation of their respective teams. It has been an operation made with love and in one go and for a mere matter of time and waivers, those are the ones who signed [the page] and not everybody. It was a signal of membership, proximity and affection toward a family and, specifically, toward Luciano [Benetton].”

The government had been threatening to strip Autostrade of its lucrative toll road business since the fatal crash and accused it of neglecting maintenance of the bridge. Aspi will have to pay a compensation fee of 3.4 billion euros.

Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, controlled by the Italian State and its financial arm, will take over Aspi with a 51 percent stake and the Benettons will gradually exit Aspi, which is expected to eventually be publicly listed. The Benettons will have no seats on the Aspi board.

Since 2018, the deadly collapse became a battleground for political parties, all converging in turning Atlantia — and therefore the Benetton family — into a scapegoat responsible for the tragedy.

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