Each Monday for the previous 30 years, Marina Berlusconi and her brother Pier Silvio mentioned enterprise and politics over supper with their father and his closest entourage at his residence outdoors Milan.
This week, there was no such dinner at Villa San Martino, an 18th-century property. As an alternative, Marina, the eldest of Silvio Berlusconi’s 5 youngsters, was woken at daybreak by a name from her father’s newest companion, Marta Fascina, who instructed her the three-time prime minister and media tycoon was in his last hours and he or she ought to rush to the hospital, in response to folks near the daughter. He was pronounced lifeless later that morning.
Marina, 56, who has been chairing the €4bn household holding firm Fininvest for over 20 years, has struck an unlikely alliance together with her father’s 33-year-old companion, who’s a lawmaker in his get together, Forza Italia, and had been along with the octogenarian since 2020.
The 2 ladies, who on Wednesday held arms and had been visibly distraught throughout Berlusconi’s state funeral, had been each regulars on the Monday dinners, which additionally included former cupboard secretary Gianni Letta and childhood pal Fedele Confalonieri, who chairs the household’s media group, Mediaset, which is run by chief govt Pier Silvio.
A motherly determine, Marina was as soon as described by Berlusconi as the lady who had taken the place of his beloved mom Rosa after her passing in 2008. Her identify has been floated once more since his dying as an apparent political successor, however aides and confidants say her latest involvement in behind-the-scenes political discussions was solely prompted by her need to “defend” her unwell father. After a bout in hospital in April, Berlusconi’s physician mentioned he had been battling with leukaemia for a while.
The previous prime minister, in response to one particular person near the household, usually requested Marina to run for parliament in order to ultimately succeed him on the helm of the get together. “However she would repeat that the management of a political get together will not be one thing you may inherit like an organization,” mentioned the particular person.
Marina’s “shut and affectionate relationship” with Fascina, in response to an in depth confidante, was additionally motivated by her need to insulate the aged tycoon from “political vultures”. Fascina “was completely dedicated to Silvio”, the confidante mentioned. “Marina trusted her greater than her father’s political allies,” mentioned Lorenzo Castellani, a professor at Luiss College.
A former public relations supervisor at soccer membership AC Milan, which Berlusconi owned till 2017, Fascina rose by means of the get together’s ranks and overhauled its higher echelons with Marina’s assist.
In a single instance of the daughter and girlfriend’s co-ordinated efforts, they succeeded in limiting the entry to Villa San Martino of Berlusconi’s closest political aide Licia Ronzulli, analysts say.
Ronzulli, a former member of the European parliament and a Forza Italia lawmaker, was for years probably the most influential get together member alongside international minister Antonio Tajani.
However after a number of political mishaps that led to public tensions between Berlusconi and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni within the early days of her authorities, Marina and Fascina suggested the aged tycoon to oust Ronzulli from his internal circle.
Marina took it into her personal arms to fix ties with Meloni, with whom she has since constructed an in depth working relationship, in response to folks near each ladies.
She is anticipated to make use of this new connection to safe her household’s grip on the media empire, which extends past tv to publishing and manufacturing and has struggled amid structural modifications to the business and elevated competitors from streaming platforms. A 2016 takeover by French competitor Vivendi, which the Berlusconi household dubbed “hostile”, highlighted these struggles, although it has since been reversed.
With potential new takeover bids within the wings, Marina is anticipated to play a decisive position in approving or blocking such makes an attempt, mentioned Castellani.
Marina is married to former ballet dancer Maurizio Vanadia and has two youngsters, one named after her father. She and her 4 siblings every personal between 7 and eight per cent stakes in Fininvest. The holding firm additionally controls writer Mondadori and lender Banca Mediolanum.
Berlusconi had assured Forza Italia’s debt and is now owed €90mn from the get together, in response to its treasurer Alfredo Messina that means that the get together might face chapter if the heirs, all longtime donors, had been to claw again that cash. “Forza Italia’s monetary well being is hinged on Marina and her siblings,” mentioned Castellani.
Born from Berlusconi’s first marriage to Carla Elvira Dall’Oglio, whom he met at a Milan tram cease, Marina and Pier Silvio are set to inherit half of Berlusconi’s 60 per cent stake in Fininvest. The youngsters from his second marriage to actress Veronica Lario — Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi — would find yourself with equal stakes of the remaining 30 per cent.
Such an allocation would give Marina and Pier Silvio better management over the household’s enterprise, which they’ve run for years. In an announcement Fininvest mentioned there could be absolute “continuity” following its founder’s dying.
One of many folks near the holding firm mentioned the late former prime minister trod rigorously to stop household feuds over cash after his dying.
“He was shocked by the Agnelli household’s infighting and needed to keep away from it in any respect prices,” mentioned the particular person, in reference to the continued authorized battle between the heirs to the fortune of automaker Fiat.
Berlusconi’s property contains worldwide properties, yachts, Monza soccer crew and different belongings value an extra €2bn, which will even be divided between his youngsters and — if she is included within the will — Fascina, to whom he was not legally married.
“Marta has overseen every part together with on the political entrance,” mentioned one different particular person near Fininvest. “Marina may be very appreciative of what she’s finished for her father,” the particular person added.
Fascina assisted the previous prime minister by means of all of the hospital stints, together with the ultimate one. “She went into the hospital with Silvio and solely got here out with him,” mentioned the confidante.
In Could, when Berlusconi was wheeled out of the hospital by means of a backdoor, Fascina was seen in a video nudging safety to defend her feeble companion from the paparazzi hidden on a tree high.
Lengthy gone are the times when Berlusconi, then a serving prime minister, made headlines the world over for his so-called bunga bunga events. This 12 months a courtroom cleared him of any wrongdoing within the case involving underage ladies, which to the household was an infinite reduction. After the choice Marina mentioned the “accusations had been notorious and baseless”.
The larger concern now’s to safe lasting peace inside Berlusconi’s prolonged household, his enterprise empire and his creaking political get together.
“Everybody realises it’s finally as much as Marina, the Berlusconi household matriarch,” the confidante mentioned.