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Meloni Skips Investor Forum To Attend Ferrari F1 Race

(Bloomberg) -- Investors hoping to hear from Giorgia Meloni at the annual Ambrosetti Forum — particularly on her interventionist moves on Italian companies — were left disappointed when the prime minister opted instead to attend the Formula 1 Grand Prix just down the road.

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Meloni, who was invited to the forum in Cernobbio, eventually decided to skip it and head instead to the race at the iconic Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, which is less than 50 miles from the investor conference.

The government has taken controversial moves to exert more control over the economy, which has made some investors nervous. In recent months, Rome has announced a surprise 40% tax on bank profits, clamped down on how airlines set ticket prices and approved a decree that will allow it to take a stake in the phone carrier Telecom Italia SpA.

A spokesperson for Meloni said she wasn’t due to go to the Ambrosetti event, which is typically attended by the finance minister. Asked by reporters in Monza about not attending the conference, Meloni said: “I couldn’t do everything. I do a bit of this, a bit of that. I will go to the Forum next year,” according to the Radiocor news agency.

The business community attending the conference in Cernobbio isn’t happy about the government’s windfall tax on banks’ extra profits. About 33% of the attendees polled by the forum organizers are “very negative” on the measure, and two-thirds are overall negative on it.

The highlight of the three-day event that ends Sunday will be a speech by Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti on the country’s economic plans. Giorgetti will face a wide-range of questions, including on the government’s plan to sell stakes in several companies, and whether it will will widen its deficit to finance an upcoming budget law.

Meloni’s absence clashes with the heavy presence of her cabinet, including Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini and European Affairs Minister Raffaele Fitto.

Salvini, who is a deputy premier, is also expected to go to Monza, where Ferrari is starting in pole-position seeking to win the first race of the season. But the league leader will first address investors at the Ambrosetti forum.

In the past, prime ministers such as Paolo Gentiloni, Mario Monti and Matteo Renzi — and Meloni herself before she was premier — spoke at the closed-door forum, along with international heads of state and government, top representatives of European institutions, and Nobel Prize winners.

--With assistance from Alberto Brambilla.

(Updates with Meloni’s comments in foruth paragraph)

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