Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A. History

Via Mondadori 1
20090 Segrate

Telephone: (02) 75421
Fax: (02) 7542 2302

Public Company
Incorporated: 1912 as La Sociale di A. Mondadori & C.
Employees: 4,715
Sales: EUR 1.56 billion ($1.43 billion) (2001)
Stock Exchanges: Italian
Ticker Symbol: MNDI
NAIC: 511120 Periodical Publishers; 511130 Book Publishers; 514199 All Other Information Services; 541211 Book Stores; 454110 Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses; 541810 Advertising Agencies; 551112 Offices of Other Holding Companies

Company Perspectives:

When [a] visitor goes into the South Tower of the Mondadori headquarters in Segrate, he immediately sees a hand-press that was bought by Arnoldo Mondadori in 1926 for printing the works of Gabriele d'Annunzio on high-quality paper. This is a symbol of Italy's largest publishing group, the history of which is, as is the case for almost all large industries, closely linked to the life of one man, in this case the "boy printer" Arnoldo Mondadori who in 1907, when he was still very young, began his career as a publisher in Ostiglia, a small village in the Lombardy countryside. The expansion of Mondadori coincided with the growth of the Italian nation. From the first book series, La Lampada, which was created by Arnoldo Mondadori with the intention of spreading a love for literature among the young people of the rural, illiterate Italy of the turn of the century, to the subsequent Classici Italiani, Classici Contemporanei Italiani, Medusa and Los Specchio, cornerstones of twentieth-century Italian culture, from the successful plans to launch the great illustrated magazines, the first Italian book club and the first newsmagazine to the first low-priced paperback books, Mondadori has developed the idea of a "publishing house" for all Italians and has continuously expanded the boundaries of literature. It can thus be seen that the main stages in the historical development of Mondadori often coincide with the development of Italian publishing.

Key Dates:

Arnoldo Mondadori takes over a small printing and stationery concern in Ostiglia, Italy, called Fratelli Manzoli and renames it La Sociale; the company begins publishing a magazine called Luce!
Mondadori publishes his first two books.
The company is incorporated as La Sociale di A. Mondadori & C. and begins publishing a series of children's books called La Lampada.
Printing activities are consolidated in Verona, and a magazine department is created.
Publishing management is transferred to Milan.
The company publishes its first popular paperback.
Publication of Italian translations of foreign authors in accessible paperback form begins.
Through an agreement with the Walt Disney Company, Mondadori begins publishing a children's series based on Disney cartoon characters.
Mondadori launches the first mass-circulation women's weekly, Grazia.
The Italian Fascist government forces the relocation of the editorial offices to Arona.
Arnoldo Mondadori and his family are forced to live in exile in Switzerland until 1945.
Mondadori launches the first Italian mail-order book club and enters direct marketing.
Publication of the newsmagazine Panorama begins.
Arnoldo Mondadori dies; his son Giorgio takes over.
Through a joint venture with newsweekly L'Espresso, Mondadori publishes its first daily newspaper, La Repubblica.
Mondadori enters the television sector, forming what will eventually be called the Retequattro network (later sold to Fininvest).
Financially troubled, Mondadori is recapitalized through the creation of a holding company, AME Finanziaria, which remains controlled by the Mondadori family but which has as minority shareholders Carlo De Benedetti (17 percent) and Silvio Berlusconi (9 percent).
Mondadori acquires Spanish-language publisher Ediciones Grijalbo and a stake in Elemond, which controls the prestigious Einaudi publishing house.

Late 1980s:Battle for control of Mondadori begins between De Benedetti and Berlusconi.
Berlusconi gains control of Mondadori through his holding company Fininvest, and Leonardo Mondadori, the founder's grandson, becomes chairman; De Benedetti secures control of La Repubblica and other Mondadori newspapers.
Mondadori acquires book publisher Sperling & Kupfer Editori S.p.A.
Mondadori becomes the leading school textbook publisher in Italy by acquiring Le Monnier Group and Poseidonia; the company enters into a joint venture with the Hearst Corporation to publish Hearst magazine titles in Italy.
The company and Random House combine their Spanish-language publishing operations into the joint venture Grupo Editorial Random House Mondadori S.L.

Company History:

Further Reading:

  • Bechis, Franco, and Sergio Rizzo, In nome della rosa, Rome: Newton Compton, 1991.
  • Bergmeijer, Michael C., "Mondadori Pins Profit Hopes on Its TV-Publishing Links," Wall Street Journal Europe, May 6, 1991, p. 9.
  • ------, "Mondadori's Tatò Describes New Strategy As a Success," Wall Street Journal Europe, June 1, 1992, p. 5.
  • Betts, Paul, "Mondadori to Launch Three-Year Plan," Financial Times, February 2, 1998, p. 21.
  • Collins, Guy, "Mondadori Pact Will Free Benedetti, Berlusconi to Focus on Other Ventures," Wall Street Journal, May 3, 1991.
  • Decleva, Enrico, Arnoldo Mondadori, Turin, Italy: UTET, 1993.
  • "A Firestorm Scorches De Benedetti's Media Empire," Business Week, December 25, 1989, p. 68.
  • Hill, Andrew, "Mondadori Sale Set to Raise £990bn," Financial Times, June 15, 1994, p. 28.
  • "How Mondadori Keeps Its Italian Market Leadership," Publishers Weekly, August 21, 1995, p. 12.
  • Kinnicutt, Michael T., "A Big Italian Publishing House Attracts Interest from Outside Founding Family," Wall Street Journal, January 5, 1988.
  • Kline, Maureen, "Mondadori's Equity Issue Is Expected to Be a Success," Wall Street Journal Europe, June 15, 1994, p. 9.
  • ------, "Mondadori Shifts Executives Ahead of Its Share Offering," Wall Street Journal Europe, May 31, 1994, p. 10.
  • Lottman, Herbert R., "Gala Italian Launch for Pope's Book," Publishers Weekly, October 24, 1994, p. 12.
  • ------, "Italy's Berlusconi Extends Media Grasp," Publishers Weekly, November 21, 1994, p. 22.
  • ------, "Mondadori Up, Rizzoli Down, in '94 Results," Publishers Weekly, April 17, 1995, p. 17.
  • Milliot, Jim, "Grupo Editorial Random House Mondadori Launched," Publishers Weekly, July 23, 2001, p. 12.
  • ------, "RH, Mondadori Unite Spanish Units," Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2001, p. 9.
  • "Mondadori: Let's Both Declare Victory," Economist, May 4, 1991, p. 66.
  • Mondadori, Mimma, Tipografia in Paradiso, Milan: Mondadori, 1984.
  • Ottone, Piero, La guerra della rosa, Milan: Longanesi, 1990.
  • Pansa, Giampaolo, L'Intrigo, Milan: Sperling & Kupfer, 1990.
  • Patuzzi, Claudia, Mondadori, Naples, Italy: Liguori, 1978.
  • Revzin, Philip, "Tiff of Titans: Italian Tycoons Push European Unity, Then War Over Home Turf," Wall Street Journal, April 3, 1990, p. A1.
  • Simonian, Haig, "Berlusconi Borrows to Build a Dream," Financial Times, August 1, 1991, p. 17.
  • ------, "Rivals Celebrate a Partial Victory," Financial Times, May 1, 1991, p. 25.
  • Sturani, Maria, and Kimberley A. Strassel, "Bertelsmann, Mondadori to Form Two Book Ventures," Wall Street Journal Europe, November 12, 1998, p. 4.
  • Turnai, Giuseppe, and Delfina Rattazi, Mondadori: la grande sfida, Milan: RCS Rizzoli, 1990.
  • Wyles, John, "Duel for Soul of La Repubblica," Financial Times, December 8, 1989, p. 25.
  • ------, "A Man of His Word, and That of La Repubblica," Financial Times, April 12, 1989, p. 25.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 54. St. James Press, 2003.