Introducing Enrico Mattei
In the uncertain period immediately after the civil war in Italy, Enrico Mattei was given the task of winding up Agip's affairs and arranging for most of its energy assets to be privatised. He chose to disregard this instruction, seeking instead to achieve what he saw as the fundamental objective of giving Italy its own national oil and gas company to meet the energy needs of households and SMEs at prices significantly lower than those charged by the international oligopolies.
Mattei turned himself into a charismatic figure at Eni. A brilliant networker, he assembled a gifted team of actors on the international business stage. This was in itself a significant contribution to Italian diplomacy overseas, quite apart from the benefits deriving from the company's more technical strengths. Mattei was one of the first Italians to develop a frontier business mentality and a genuine respect for other cultures. He had grasped that no international strategy would be possible without extensive knowledge of the individual countries Eni was intending to explore. In this respect, Eni's divergence from normal practice was an exception rather than the rule in international business, so much so that its policies at times seemed an affront to commonsense. Mattei stood for a way of thinking about Italy that was visionary enough to transform a defeated agricultural country into an advanced industrial nation with a profitable state-owned energy sector.
The most valuable of Mattei's bequests to posterity is the ability to imagine the future. We must use this ability to meet today and tomorrow's challenges, renewing on a daily basis our commitment to the energy that enables all of us to develop and grow.