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The Milan Stock Exchange is the primary stock exchange of Italy. It is home to many of the country's largest corporations, with more than 300 companies in total. The exchange was founded in 1808 by a vice-royal decree, and remained a public institution until 1998. In 2007, the private company created to run the exchange, Borsa Italiana® SpA, was bought by the London Stock Exchange Group® and is now one of a number of privately-run national stock exchanges owned by that company.
In the early 1800s, the kingdom of Italy was part of the Napoleonic Empire, so the country itself was run by an appointed leader known as a viceroy. Eugène de Beauharnais, viceroy of Italy in 1808, signed two decrees that year establishing a commodities exchange in the city of Milan. The exchange was to serve as a centralized location for the trading of state bills and other financial products. This was an activity that had previously taken place in a haphazard manner, in various marketplaces throughout the country.
The Milan Stock Exchange continued as a publicly owned and operated institution for 190 years. Over that time, through wars, civil unrest, and radial government restructuring, it continued to grow, driven by industries ranging from silk to aviation to telecommunications. From the 1970s onward, the success of the Milan Stock Exchange catalyzed the city's evolution into the center of Italian finance, and fueled its increasing international prominence as a financial hub.
By the end of the 20th century, as the culmination of a series of sweeping economic and financial reforms by the Italian government, the Milan Stock Exchange was privatized. The state-controlled Stock Exchange Board was dissolved and replaced by the Borsa Italiana® SpA, which is owned by Italy's major banks. The newly private exchange was remodeled after the high-tech NASDAQ® exchange, based in New York. In 2007, the Milan Stock Exchange was acquired by the London Stock Exchange Group®, becoming part of a family of European stock exchanges.
Though no longer a sovereign entity, the Milan Stock Exchange continues to operate with a large degree of autonomy in terms of its management and oversight of the Italian stock trade. The duties of the Borsa Italiana® SpA management organization include establishing and administering the rules for being listed on the exchange, transactions and disclosure of companies on the exchange, and investors trading shares.
The companies traded on the Milan Stock Exchange are virtually all Italian-based. Major corporations include the airline Alitalia®, appliance manufacturer DeLonghi® SpA, and automaker Fiat® SpA. The combined value of the companies listed on the Milan Stock Exchange is upwards of $1 trillion US Dollars (USD).