Fenice 190: the investment plan to revive Europe

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been profound, so far resulting in almost 4 million deaths worldwide and triggering the most serious economic crisis since the post-war period. Estimates from the International Monetary Fund for 2020 recorded a 3.3% drop in global GDP, 6.6% in the Eurozone and 8.9% in Italy.

The European Union, which up to this point had not shown a great sense of unity, decided to work as one in tackling the social and economic crisis: on 21 July 2020, the member States reached an agreement on Next Generation EU, a € 750 billion instrument to foster recovery, repair the economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and create a post-COVID-19 Europe that is greener, more digital, more resilient and able to face present and future challenges.  

Next Generation EU forms part of a much wider vision, the EU's long-term budget, which will be the largest stimulus package ever financed in Europe. Over 50% of the amount will support modernisation, for example through research and innovation, fair climate and digital transitions, and the means to recovery and resilience. The package will also finance the modernisation of traditional policies, such as the cohesion policy and common agricultural policy, to maximise their contribution to EU priorities; the fight against climate change, for which 30% of European funding will be allocated - the highest percentage ever in an EU budget; biodiversity protection and gender equality.

The European insurance industry, which has shown its resilience in this period, as demonstrated by financial ratios, manages € 11 trillion in assets. This firepower and solid long-term investment expertise mean that insurance companies can contribute as investors, as well as government advisors, in supporting the recovery and development of sectors such as green and digital transformation. They can also transfer solidity and resilience to the economic and social system, preparing to face an increase in systemic risks such as pandemics. 

Generali was among the first to take action in this sense, launching an anti-pandemic initiative at European level in March 2020 which, during the year, identified 10 investment opportunities constituting a total investment of € 1.05 billion. The insurance industry, national governments and institutions have therefore collaborated in covering the costs associated with business shutdowns. Generali has had and will always have a special proximity to its customers and agents, even more so in such a delicate historic phase as this. The initiative met with great interest in Europe. 

Later, in February 2021, Generali presented Fenice 190, an investment plan to support the relaunch of European economies affected by COVID-19, starting with Italy, France and Germany, and continuing with all European countries in which the Group is present; this plan will have a duration of five years (2021-2025) for a total amount of € 3.5 billion, including € 1.05 billion invested in 2020.

Fenice 190 was launched in the year of Generali's 190th anniversary. An anniversary that happened to fall in a decisive year for working together to overcome the most serious global crisis since the post-war period and for laying the foundations for a mass global relaunch. With Fenice 190, Generali aims to play a key role in this recovery, leaving a concrete sign for the future, with significant support directed to the most innovative, sustainable and strategic sectors for the rebirth of the European economy, and to favour the inclusion of those most heavily impacted by the crisis.

Fenice 190 is making permanent the extraordinary initiatives launched in 2020 to deal with the crisis, with investments that have supported SMEs and the real economy that surpassed the € 1 billion objective. Added to this amount is a commitment to sustainable growth of € 500 million per year, for the next 5 years, through international investment funds focusing on infrastructure, innovation and digitalisation, SMEs, green housing, health care facilities and education.

The initiatives were selected by an investments committee of experts in real assets, sustainability, private markets, credit and equity. Responsibility for the committee was assigned to the Head of Private Markets and Real Assets, Aldo Mazzocco, with an approach based on compliance with the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the specific objective of generating a positive impact for economic recovery and the real economy in Europe.

The Fenice 190 plan is implemented through the Generali Investments multi-boutique platform and is open to third-party funds and institutional investors as well as all Group companies, which have the opportunity to synergically participate in investment allocation based on their own objectives. Through a systematic approach to investments and excellent governance, the programme brings financial benefits to investors, in line with the development guidelines identified by European national governments and institutions for the Next Generation EU.

The investments target businesses with projects that meet the fund's eligibility criteria, supporting them in a sustainable development process for their business, with positive impacts on employees, business partners and communities, to make Europe a safer and more habitable place for all its citizens.