The Italian Almanac

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Marina Berlusconi

Marina the Great

Marina Berlusconi, the eldest daughter of Premier and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, has been named the most powerful woman in Italy for the third year running in Forbes' annual rankings of women with clout. Berlusconi, who is chairman of the Berlusconi family's Fininvest empire and head of Italy's largest publishing group Mondadori, claimed 34th place in the US business magazine's list of the 100 most powerful women in the world - slipping down one place from last year.

She comes in ahead of United States First Lady Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth II of England. The number one spot went to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the third year in a row. The chairman of the United States government's Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila C. Bair, came in second while Pepsi President Indra K. Nooyi took third place. Berlusconi, 42, is now the only Italian on the list after Giuliana Benetton, who set up the Benetton Group with her three brothers in 1965, dropped out of the top 100 this year.

Fininvest is an unlisted group worth an estimated 12 billion dollars, employing over 20,000 people and entirely owned by Berlusconi and his family. Commercial TV network Mediaset is the jewel in the Fininvest crown but other prized assets include Mondadori, the financial services group Mediolanum and the AC Milan Serie A soccer club.

In March Silvio Berlusconi was unseated as Italy's richest man in the annual Forbes billionaires' list, dropping down to third behind confectionary king Michele Ferrero and Luxottica eyeglass tycoon Leonardo Del Vecchio.