Buying a Business

Find out the benefits and risks of buying an existing business in Italy...

It is easier to buy an existing business in Italy than to start a new one and it's also less of a risk. The paperwork for taking over an existing business is simpler, although still complex. Buying a business that's a going concern, however, is difficult as Italian businesses are usually passed down from generation to generation and offered for sale only when they fail.

Obtain an independent valuation (or two) and employ an accountant (commercialista) to audit the books. Never sign anything that not fully understood and obtain unbiased professional advice, for example from local experts such as banks and accountants, before buying a business.


The hiring of employees shouldn't be undertaken lightly in Italy and must be taken into account before starting a business. An employment contract must be entered in to under Italian labour law and employees enjoy extensive rights.

If buying an existing business, the buyer may be required to take on existing staff who cannot be dismissed, or be faced with paying high redundancy compensation. It is expensive to hire employees, because, in addition to salaries, over 40 percent is paid by the employer in social security contributions, a 13 (and possibly 14) month's salary, five or six weeks' paid annual holiday, plus pay for public holidays, sickness, maternity and more.

Extract from Living and Working in Italy (3rd Edition, 2007) edited by Graeme Chesters (Available as eBook or order from Amazon) Published by Survival Books Ltd Copyright © Survival Books Ltd All Rights Reserved