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Mediobanca is Italy's largest investment bank and has dominated Italian finance for more than 50 years. It was founded in 1946 by Raffaele Mattioli, at that time CEO of Banca Commerciale Italiana, the largest bank in Italy, and banker Enrico Cuccia to facilitate the post-World War II reconstruction of Italian industry. Cuccia led Mediobanca from 1946 to 1982 and remained its powerful chairman until the late 1990s. Becoming a shareholder in the bank's controlling syndicate amounted to joining Italy's "salotto buono" or elite. Italy's state sector ballooned in the postwar era, Cuccia's goal was to keep some blue-chip firms – Fiat and Pirelli among others - in the hands of the families that founded them. He crafted an elaborate network of cross shareholdings with Mediobanca always at the center pulling the strings. After Cuccia's death, there was a protracted battle to gain influence over Mediobanca. However, as the euro introduced deeper capital markets and Italy's cash-strapped state had to sell assets, Mediobanca has evolved. Its primary function now is to advise medium-sized companies in Italy, most of which are unlisted and reliant on commercial bank loans.

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