Giovanni Agnelli

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Giovanni Agnelli
Giovanni Agnelli.jpg
Giovanni Agnelli
Born(1866-08-13)13 August 1866
Died16 December 1945(1945-12-16) (aged 79)
Turin, Italy
Known forFounder of Fiat
Children Edoardo Agnelli
Aniceta Caterina (1889-1928)
Parent(s) Edoardo Agnelli
Aniceta Frisetti
Relatives Gianni Agnelli (grandson)
Susanna Agnelli (granddaughter)
Giorgio Agnelli (grandson)
Umberto Agnelli (grandson)
Andrea Agnelli (great-grandson)
John Elkann (great-great-grandson)

Giovanni Agnelli (13 August 1866 – 16 December 1945) was an Italian businessman, who founded Fiat car manufacturing in 1899.


Early life

The son of Edoardo Agnelli and Aniceta Frisetti, he was born in 1866 in Villar Perosa, a small town near Pinerolo, Piedmont, still the main home and burial place of the Agnelli family. His father, mayor of Villar Perosa, died at age 40, when Giovanni was just five. He studied at the Collegio San Giuseppe in Turin; then embarked on a military career until 1893 when he returned to Villar Perosa, where he followed in his father's footsteps and became mayor in 1895 which he held until his death. Agnelli heard about the invention of the (then) new horseless carriage and immediately saw an opportunity for using his engineering and entrepreneurial skills. In 1898, he met Count Emanuele Cacherano of Bricherasio, who was looking for investors for his horseless carriage project; Agnelli sensed the opportunity.

Aniceta Frisetti was an Italian philanthropist. She became a member of the Agnelli family when she married Edoardo Agnelli.

Villar Perosa Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Villar Perosa is a comune (municipality) in the Metropolitan City of Turin in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 40 kilometres (25 mi) southwest of Turin.

Pinerolo Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Pinerolo is a town and comune in the Metropolitan City of Turin, Piedmont, northwestern Italy, 50 kilometres (31 mi) southwest of Turin on the river Chisone. The Lemina torrent has its source at the boundary between Pinerolo and San Pietro Val di Lemina.

Business career

On 11 July 1899, Agnelli was part of the group of founding members of the Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino, which became Fiat; he paid $400 for his share in 1899, worth around $11,500 in today's prices.[ citation needed ] One year later, he was the managing director of the new company and became the chairman in 1920. The first Fiat plant opened in 1900 with 35 staff making 24 cars. The company was known from the beginning for the talent and creativity of its engineering staff. By 1903, Fiat made a small profit and produced 135 cars growing to 1,149 cars by 1906. The company then went public selling shares via the Milan stock exchange. Agnelli began purchasing all the shares he could to add to his holdings. During this time, he overcame scandals and labour problems.

During World War I, Agnelli became involved with the financier Riccardo Gualino in transport of US aid to Europe in 1917. They invested in two enterprises in the United States; the Marine & Commerce Corporation of America exported coal and the International Shipbuilding Company made motorized vessels. These companies failed when the war ended, since they were structured to meet wartime demand, but had returned large profits to their owners. [1]

Riccardo Gualino was an Italian trader, financier and industrialist. He was also a patron and collector of art, and a film producer. His first business empire was based on lumber from Eastern Europe and included forest concessions, lumber mills, ships and warehouses. The highly leveraged structure collapsed in 1912–13. Gualino was also involved in manufacturing and distributing cement, and during World War I (1914–18) built and operated cargo ships carrying goods such as coal from the United States to Europe. After the war he was engaged in many enterprises, some in partnership with Giovanni Agnelli of Fiat. His activities included banking, manufacture of rayon, confectionery, chemicals and artificial leather.

Agnelli and Gualino made an attempt early in 1918 to take over Credito Italiano. They did not succeed, but joined the board of directors of the bank. [2] Agnelli was vice-president of Gualino's SNIA from 1917 to 1926. In the early 1920s, SNIA began to manufacture artificial textile fibers.


SNIA S.p.A. was an Italian firm located in Milan that manufactured defence products, textiles, chemicals, perfumes, and corrugated paper among other products.

In 1920, Gualino and Agnelli participated in recapitalization of the private bank Jean de Fernex and bought a third of the shares of Alfredo Frassati, publisher of La Stampa . [3] Gualino and Agnelli were also involved in a proposal to link Milan, Genoa and Turin with a high-speed railway and in various projects in cement and automobiles. Their partnership broke up around 1926 due to Gualino's investments in the French automobile industry. [1]

<i>La Stampa</i> Italian daily newspaper

La Stampa is an Italian daily newspaper published in Turin, Italy. It is distributed in Italy and other European nations. It is one of the oldest newspapers in Italy.

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,395,274 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,245,308. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

Genoa Comune in Liguria, Italy

Genoa is the capital of the Italian region of Liguria and the sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived within the city's administrative limits. As of the 2011 Italian census, the Province of Genoa, which in 2015 became the Metropolitan City of Genoa, counted 855,834 resident persons. Over 1.5 million people live in the wider metropolitan area stretching along the Italian Riviera.

After World War I, Fiat jumped from 30th to third place among Italian industrial companies. The first Ford factory was opened four years after Fiat was founded. In 1906, the first Fiat car dealer in the U.S. was established at a location in Manhattan on Broadway. Agnelli was appointed a Senator in 1923, [4] and filled several other prestigious positions between the two wars. He remained focused and propelled Fiat to the international arena. He was still active with Fiat at the start of the Second World War, and died soon after it ended in 1945 at age 79.


See also


  1. 1 2 Chiapparino 2003.
  2. Zamagni 1993, p. 233.
  3. Riccardo Gualino – Storia e Cultura.
  4. Berend, Ivan T. (2016-09-22). An Economic History of Twentieth-Century Europe: Economic Regimes from Laissez-Faire to Globalization. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   9781107136427.
  5. "Giovanni Agnelli". Hall of Fame Inductees. Automotive Hall of Fame. 2002. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  6. Johnson, Richard. "Thirteen wise men who shaped the course of European auto history". Automotive News. European Automotive Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 4, 2016.


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