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Italian Banker Cuccia Dies at 92

June 23, 2000

ROME (AP) _ Enrico Cuccia, considered the most powerful man in Italian finance, is dead at age 92.

The head of the Italian Bankers’ Association, Maurizio Sella, announced Cuccia’s death Friday at an association meeting in Rome.

The highly secretive Cuccia founded Mediobanca, once Italy’s only merchant bank, and played a role in virtually every major deal in postwar Italian history involving the country’s titans of business and industry.

Cuccia was admitted to the Monzino heart hospital in Milan on Thursday and died during the night, Italian news agencies said. He spent several weeks at Monzino this spring, where he reportedly received dialysis.

As co-founder and chairman of Mediobanca, the nation’s premier merchant bank, Cuccia served as the clearing gate for mega-mergers and as custodian for strategic chunks of stock in the handful of major industrial groups, like the Agnelli empire, that dominated the Italian private sector.

Cuccia was forced off Mediobanca’s board in 1982 when he reached the retirement age of 75, but stayed on as honorary chairman, trying to engineer deals even as he neared 90.

``When you speak about Cuccia, you must not speak only of a banker, but of a man who has tied his history to that of the country,″ said Pirelli tire empire chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera during a 1997 state TV interview.

Despite half a century behind headline-making deals, Cuccia never gave a single interview. For journalists who caught up with his stooped, thin frame as he walked the few blocks from his Milan home to Mediobanca’s headquarters in a palace near La Scala opera house, he had a shy ``Good morning.″

Born on Nov. 24, 1907, Cuccia was a Roman who was suspicious of politics. He began his professional life working for Italy’s central bank, then moved over to Italy’s sprawling state industrial holding company IRI (Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale).

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