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Piero Pirelli: A Life Devoted to Industry, Social Issues and a Passion for Sport

The eldest son of Giovanni Battista Pirelli and Maria Sormani, Piero Pirelli played a key role in the history of the industrial group that was founded by his father in 1872. Born in 1881, he started working as a teenager in the company business – together with his brother Alberto, who was a year younger – helping his father both in the factory in Via Ponte Seveso, and on underwater telegraph cable-laying campaigns with the ship Città di Milano, as well as on business trips abroad. In 1903 the two brothers graduated in Law from the University of Genoa and the following year they officially joined their father in running the company. As the Group rapidly expanded in those years, the brothers took turns in going on trips abroad. In 1904 Piero was in America to oversee Pirelli’s participation in the St Louis World’s Fair, and he later returned several times to the United States, as well as to Spain, where he directly supervised the factories. During the First World War, Piero served as a cavalry officer in the Supreme Command. Once back in the company, in 1920, he and his brother were appointed as managing directors of the two companies that were set up as part of a restructuring plan: Società Italiana Pirelli (later Pirelli SpA) and the Compagnie Internationale Pirelli, the holding company of the foreign group. From then on, the two brothers’ roles became more specialised. While Alberto mainly worked on international relations and activities abroad, Piero focused on business in Italy, and on trade union relations and welfare projects. In 1919, it was he who led negotiations for the reduction of working hours from 60 to 48 per week, and in 1946 he promoted the Piero and Alberto Pirelli Foundation to assist the company’s elderly employees. Upon the death of his father in 1932, Piero was appointed president of the Group, a position he held until his death on 7 August 1956. With a great love of sports, in 1899 he helped set up the “Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club” (becoming its president from 1909 to 1929) and he helped in the construction of the San Siro stadium in 1926. His life was one of business, social activities and a great passion for sport.

The eldest son of Giovanni Battista Pirelli and Maria Sormani, Piero Pirelli played a key role in the history of the industrial group that was founded by his father in 1872. Born in 1881, he started working as a teenager in the company business – together with his brother Alberto, who was a year younger – helping his father both in the factory in Via Ponte Seveso, and on underwater telegraph cable-laying campaigns with the ship Città di Milano, as well as on business trips abroad. In 1903 the two brothers graduated in Law from the University of Genoa and the following year they officially joined their father in running the company. As the Group rapidly expanded in those years, the brothers took turns in going on trips abroad. In 1904 Piero was in America to oversee Pirelli’s participation in the St Louis World’s Fair, and he later returned several times to the United States, as well as to Spain, where he directly supervised the factories. During the First World War, Piero served as a cavalry officer in the Supreme Command. Once back in the company, in 1920, he and his brother were appointed as managing directors of the two companies that were set up as part of a restructuring plan: Società Italiana Pirelli (later Pirelli SpA) and the Compagnie Internationale Pirelli, the holding company of the foreign group. From then on, the two brothers’ roles became more specialised. While Alberto mainly worked on international relations and activities abroad, Piero focused on business in Italy, and on trade union relations and welfare projects. In 1919, it was he who led negotiations for the reduction of working hours from 60 to 48 per week, and in 1946 he promoted the Piero and Alberto Pirelli Foundation to assist the company’s elderly employees. Upon the death of his father in 1932, Piero was appointed president of the Group, a position he held until his death on 7 August 1956. With a great love of sports, in 1899 he helped set up the “Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club” (becoming its president from 1909 to 1929) and he helped in the construction of the San Siro stadium in 1926. His life was one of business, social activities and a great passion for sport.