Affidea CEO interview with La Repubblica, Italy: “We provide quality services, guaranteeing constant investments in new technologies”
Translation from La Repubblica interview: “Giuseppe Recchi: Torino è una città in stallo: dalle Olimpiadi in poi troppe occasioni perse"
He started out in large civil infrastructures with a family business, then in energy as CEO of General Electric for Southern Europe and President of Eni, then to telecommunications as the Executive President of Telecom. Since 2017, Giuseppe Recchi, the Turin top manager has been CEO of Affidea, a multinational diagnostic imaging services company, present in 15 countries across Europe, with more than 9000 employees and 320 centers. In Italy, the company has 58 medical centers, 39 of which are in Piedmont. The latest, acquired a few days ago, is Promea, the Turin laboratory specialized in assisted reproduction and medical genetics - an operation that becomes the starting point to also talk about the present and future of Turin.
Let's rewind the clock - how did you come to Affidea?
“I was approached in 2017, when I was at Telecom. Affidea wanted to expand and was looking for a profile specialized in infrastructure. At that moment I joined Affidea and I have been working in an incredibly interesting sector, which is at the center of a very strong demand, due to the importance that healthcare and, in particular, preventive diagnostics has gained in recent years. Whether we are talking about the achievements in clinical research, artificial intelligence or new diagnostic techniques, healthcare is and will be increasingly effective."
Why was an infrastructure specialist needed?
"Because healthcare has a strong connection to infrastructure, and it will be increasingly so due to the continuous increase in world population. Unfortunately, we are used to receiving services without thinking that there must be planning behind their provision. It's like building a road without taking into account how traffic will change over the next 30 years. Healthcare is both an infrastructure business, because it requires buildings and equipment, and a human one, because it takes 15 years to train a health professional. The aspect that fascinates me most about this challenge is how new technologies can improve people's health.”
Affidea has just acquired Promea, last July it did the same with the CDC group, long before that it took over IRMET (nuclear medicine). Is Turin therefore attractive as far as private healthcare is concerned?
"It is, as well as Italy overall as a country is, or as other European countries are. In Italy, there are very strong skills but there is a lack of service providers with the ability to invest. The large public hospitals are no longer enough to satisfy everyone's needs. We acquired CDC and Promea because today we need a large provider of high-quality healthcare services, which is an alternative to the public hospitals. We provide quality services, guaranteeing constant investments in new technologies, thanks to the economies of scale we are capable of bringing.”
Is the fact that this role of aggregator belongs to a multinational, and not a Piedmontese company, a reason for regret?
"No regrets, the important thing is that operators in a given area grow and invest by promoting employment and services to citizens. The shareholder passport is not a decisive factor. What matters is the company’s ability to create value in the territory, where the decision center is, and we have one in each of the 15 countries where we are present. I don't like the term acquisitions, I prefer partnerships; those who join the Affidea Group maintain their identity - we don't change the brand, we protect jobs and continue to invest in new technologies and the training of our people.”
How do you see Turin today?
“It is a city that has all the elements to be attractive: skills, quality of life, cost competitiveness. It should be an ideal place to invest, yet it fails to match the growth rates of other major European cities. It is a static place, which does not attract capital and talent as it should.”
What is missing?
“There are boundary conditions, there are no system conditions, which depend on the choices made at local level. In Turin there is an exaggerated understatement both on local administrators and on large companies. This comes from the fact that in the last 15 years no one has been able to have a big vision and perspective anymore. There was a lack of leadership for the construction of a new identity for our city.”
Why are you talking about the past 15 years?
"Because the Olympics were the last moment in which Turin showed vision. The image of the industrial city was surpassed by that of an ideal place to live and visit. The situation got worse in the past five years, when several trains were lost.”
Which trains? The 2026 Olympics?
"Not only. Today the territories compete with each other, mainly on the basis of how easy it is to do business, or be an ideal place to live, and therefore attract people and capital. Not only the Olympics, but all the main investments have been focused on other areas that offered better conditions, despite many examples of great families who have built the history of Italian industry."
Are you talking about Milan?
“Not only that, I could mention several cities in Europe that, without even making particularly expensive choices, have been able to attract investments. I wonder why a city like Turin, which has the skills, the universities, an engineering culture, inventiveness, cannot compete with Warsaw, for example, which in recent years has turned into a sort of European Silicon Valley. But I could give you at least ten examples of this kind."
However, if, for example, you look at construction, the sector to which you and your family are most connected, you will no longer find major players: how do you explain this impoverishment?
“Unfortunately, this also applies to many other sectors. The point is not to analyze what went wrong but to understand how it could go better. A new way of collaborating between public administration and entrepreneurs, aimed at driving in the same direction, as has happened in healthcare, between public and private health. It is a successful formula, even more so if it is developed continuously and with a view to long-term healthcare needs.