A time-honored tradition
Fondazione Cariplo was established in 1991 following the reorganization of Italy’s banking system under the Amato-Carli legislation. Its origins, however, can be traced back to much older times. In fact, Fondazione Cariplo represents the historical continuation of Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, a savings bank established in Milan as early as June 12, 1823, and continues its time-honored tradition which began as early as the nineteenth century.
After defeating Napoleon, in 1816 Imperial Austria had gained vast Italian territories, including Lombardy. In the face of terrible poverty from devastating, long-drawn Napoleonic Wars, the Austrian administration commissioned a group of capable, honest Milanese aristocrats to create and manage a philanthropic organization that would aid the poorest population and finance economic activities.
Their efforts led to the creation of an entity named Commissione Centrale di Beneficenza, which exists to this very day as one of the governing bodies of Fondazione Cariplo and bears witness to the foundation’s strong historical roots.
Thanks to substantial private donations, Commissione Centrale di Beneficenza could begin operation.
One early issue was how to utilize the large resources generated as a result of the wise investment policy of its administrators. Milan’s Austrian administrators suggested that a savings bank after the fashion of Vienna’s Savings Bank be created.
On the initiative of Count Giovanni Pietro Porro, in 1823 Milanese savings bank Cassa di Risparmio di Milano was incorporated in one of the most flourishing regions of the Austrian Empire. The aim was to promote household savings in Lombardy.
In ensuing years, Cassa di Risparmio di Milano grew and expanded across the region and into the next century when it was renamed Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde. After World War II the bank played a key role in Milan’s reconstruction. In the years of Italy’s economic boom, it developed its mid-term finance business through Mediocredito Lombardo, especially to back the growth of smaller businesses.
In more recent times, the Amato-Carli legislation laid the foundations for the reorganization, rationalization and privatization of Italy’s banking system. Under the Amato-Carli Act, Italian Savings Banks de-merged their lending business into newly formed joint-stock companies, though retaining a controlling stake therein. The surviving entities changed their legal status and became Foundations.
The mission of Foundations was to continue the philanthropic action hitherto carried out by savings banks. In January 1998, Fondazione Cariplo completed the sale of its control shareholding in Cariplo Spa (the joint-stock company) and launched a major business development plan. The plan entailed the merger of Cariplo Spa with Banco Ambrosiano Veneto and led to the formation of Banca Intesa, one of Italy’s leading banking groups. The proceeds from that deal enabled Fondazione Cariplo to become one of the world’s top ten foundations by assets. After further merging with Cassa di Risparmio di Parma, Banca Friuladria and Banca Commerciale Italiana, Banca Intesa became Italy’s largest banking group. Following the recent merger between BancaIntesa and SanPaolo IMI, Fondazione Cariplo has become one of the main shareholders of one of Europe’s major banking groups.