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The owner of Spezia Calcio, one of Italy's richest and least-known men

by Gianni Dragoni

The owner of Spezia Calcio, Gabriele Volpi, is one of Italy's richest and yet least well-known men. He now wants to invest in the purchase of a bank. His choice fell on the Genoa-based Banca Carige that will try to raise €850 million in fresh capital in May in order to survive.

In recent months, Volpi has been quietly purchasing Banca Carige shares. He is yet to make any official statement about his acquisitions, meaning he is still below the 2% threshold above which Italian law requires a public disclosure.

Another entrepreneur, Vittorio Malacalza, also one of Pirelli's shareholders, has recently bought stakes in the Genovese bank.

Malacalza purchased 10.5% of Fondazione Carige's bank for € 66.2 million. The foundation, formerly the shareholder controlling the bank, currently owns 3%, a quota destined to shrink even further.

Volpi lives in Nigeria where he manages the port's oil logistics. His business is worth €2 billion and employs 20,000 people. He owns a private jet as well as a 60 meter yacht. He is also the owner of the Liguria-based Pro Recco water polo team.

There are rumours that identify Volpi as U.C. Sampdoria's real owner. Back in 2014 the team was purchased from the Garrone family by Massimo Ferrero for a symbolic €1,000.

“I already own three teams. I'll think about buying Sampdoria when Recco beats all existing records,” Volpi said.

Spezia Calcio currently competes in Serie B and after 33 matches is in fifth position – an area that allows the team to compete for the Serie A.