The Founder

Silvio Berlusconi, the Fininvest founder, has been one of the most important entrepreneurs, politicians, and statesmen in Italy.

Born in Milan on 29 September 1936, son of a bank employee and a housewife, he began to work in the construction sector in 1961, soon after his graduation from university and, between 1970 and 1991, he created Milano 2 and Milano 3, two of the most innovative residential areas in Europe at that time, in Segrate and Basiglio.

silvio berlusconi fondatore fininvest

In the early 1970s, he began to explore his interests in the television world.

In the early 1970s he began to explore new possibilities and started focussing on the television world. He established TeleMilano, a closed-circuit television intended for Milano2 residents, then launched Fininvest three-channel network (Italia1, Rete4 and Canale5) groundbreaking the information system in Italy – which used to be under state monopoly over Rai tv broadcasting – in the following decade and deeply changing advertising.

On 2 June 1977, Silvio Berlusconi was awarded the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro – Knight of the Order of Merit of Labor, an Italian order of chivalry – by Giovanni Leone, the President of the Italian Republic, to celebrate the excellent results he achieved in the construction industry.

In 1982 Berlusconi further extended his activity range and founded Mediolanum, alongside Ennio Doris – the newly established bank, underpinned by a highly innovative service model, was listed on Milan Stock Exchange in 1996.

In 1988 Berlusconi became the major shareholder of Standa, a large-scale retail trade group.
Anyway, publishing was still his main interest: between 1985 and 1991 he acquired the majority stake in Mondadori Group, today the leading player in the Italian book market with a market share close to 27%. In the information field, Silvio Berlusconi was also shareholder of Il Giornale, the Milanese newspaper established in 1974 by Indro Montanelli.

Between 1986 and 1994, Berlusconi pursued his great passion for soccer and he acquired AC Milan.

Between 1986 and 1994, Berlusconi pursued his great passion for soccer. He acquired AC Milan football club and led it to the top of football world: in the 31-year Berlusconian era, ended in 2017 when the club was sold, AC Milan won eight Scudetti (Italian Serie A championship), 1 Coppa Italia, 7 Italian Super Cups, 5 Champions League, 2 Intercontinental Cups, 5 UEFA Super Cups, and 1 Club World Cup.

In 2018 the love its founder had for sports led Fininvest to acquire Monza Calcio, to have it promoted from Italian Serie C to Serie A championship in just four seasons.

At the beginning of 1994, after the Italian First Republic was brought to an end by the judiciary campaign Mani Pulite (literally, ‘clean hands’) and all Italian moderate political parties collapsed, Silvio Berlusconi announced his ‘descent into the field’ (discesa in campo): in a few months he founded Forza Italia, a liberal political party, from scratch and stood as a candidate in the Prime Minister’s election.

Against all forecasts and opinion polls, the centre-right coalition conceived and led by Berlusconi got over 48% votes and unexpectedly won elections in March 1994, the first ever elections held under a majority system.

He is the longest-serving President in the history of the Italian Republic.

Berlusconi resigned all his executive positions in his companies and became Italy Prime Minister, devoting himself to politics. Italy entered the age of bipolarism, which characterized Italian Second Republic and over the most recent thirty years has allowed democratic alternation, which had never occurred in post-war Italy.

After the early fall of his first Government in January 1995, Berlusconi was elected Prime Minister three more times (in June 2001, in April 2005 and in May 2008) – with 3,339 days spent at Palazzo Chigi, he has been the longest-serving Prime Minister in the Italian republican era.

Many law reforms were implemented by his governments in a variety of areas. Some of them left a deep mark. It is worth mentioning the Biagi Law, which in 2003 implemented enhanced flexibility into employment contracts, the constitutional law that in 1999 added the principle of ‘due process’ (giusto processo), and the non-discrimination rule for persons with disabilities that in 2006 prohibited all discrimination on the basis of disability.

Other reforms by Berlusconi have changed ancient customs – the ban on smoking in public places and workplaces, which has been implemented throughout Europe after 2003, the driving licence point system, which has steadily halved fatal accidents since its introduction in 2006 and the abolition of compulsory military service.

It is invited to address the United States Congress.

Berlusconi achieved remarkable successes in the international arena: from the idea of making Russia join NATO with the signing of a treaty at Pratica di Mare air base in 2002, to Italy-Libya agreements in 2008, up to achieving the appointment of Mario Draghi as President of the European Central Bank in 2011.

In March 2006 he was the fourth Italian Prime Minister (after Alcide De Gasperi, Giulio Andreotti and Bettino Craxi) to be invited to address the United States Congress.

After his resignation from the Senate in 2013, Berlusconi stood in the European elections in May 2019 and was elected to the Parliament in Brussels with a voting record of 560,000 preferences. In October 2022 he also returned to the Italian Senate.

He passed away after a long illness in Milan on June 12, 2023: he was inducted in Milan Famedio Pantheon (Hall of Fame) at Cimitero Monumentale, the city cemetery.

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