A FUTURE TO BE WRITTEN DAY BY DAY
We started off with the simplest of mediums, paper, and have reached the most technological applications in order to find, and be found, even on the move. In between these extremes, our history is full of chapters written with passion, courage and intelligence. On top of all this, there’s that spirit of evolution that is typical in Companies who have understood the importance of never stopping, keeping pace with the times and “being found” always ready.
On 20 June 2016, a new chapter of this exciting story began: the new Italiaonline S.p.A. was born, the best of the industrial history, technologies and skills in digital communication of Seat Pagine Gialle – the number one media company and one of the most representative and historic Italian industrial companies in the economic landscape of the last century – and Italiaonline, true web pioneer and today the number one Italian Internet company: two great companies that have the ambition and ability to help build the digital future of the country and its economy in their DNA.
On 23 May Seat was established, “Società anonima Elenchi Ufficiali degli Abbonati al Telefono” (Official Directory of Telephone Suscribers joint stock company). It published telephone directories. With a capital of 100,000 lire and operational headquarters in Turin, Via Saluzzo 56. Shareholders: Sip (65%) and Giani (35%). The telephone networks were divided into five areas, and entrusted to as many concessionaires: Stipel, Telve, Teti, Timo and Set.
The State Agency for Telephone Services (Azienda di Stato per i servizi telefonici, ASST) worked in parallel, handling inter-urban traffic and connecting and coordinating the concessionaires.
The five-year economic crisis caused by the war forced Seat to reduce costs. Much attention was dedicated to the directories’ layout with a consequential reduction in the number of pages in each directory, thus optimising costs.
Seat created the Eritrea Directory.
The second edition of the Asmara Directory was published and an agreement was made for an Addis Ababa Directory. With the beginning of the war, the editorial development that had characterised the early thirties stopped abruptly: in 1942 the publication of the General Directory was suspended.
The bombing of Turin led to the destruction of warehouses storing paper stock, and SEAT decided to only publish the alphabetical directories.
Given the country’s general situation, Seat was placed in liquidation and the publication of telephone directories was suspended.
1951 – 1958
Seat broadened its geographical sphere by printing telephone directories also in Central-Southern Italy.
SEAT, with the publication of Tetic’s directories, became the only telephone directory publisher for the entire country. In the following years an attempt was made at publishing regional directories, while the sections of the directory for different locations were published in separate volumes.
The process of separating Categorical and Road Directories from the Alphabetical ones was accelerated and consolidated.
Seat printed the telephone directories for SIP, and became the only Italian telephone concessionaire. Seat was 100% owned by STET.
Seat began publishing categorical directories (Yellow Pages).
The PagineGialle (yellow pages) of Milan and Rome were published in two variants, “Work Edition” and “Home Edition”.
The “Galfra” was introduced: the new typeface created by the research and experience of SEAT, for the legibility of small texts.
The topographic maps included in the PagineGialle were separated from the directories: “TuttoCittà” was born. The company diversified its offer by providing economic operators involved in exportation with a dedicated directory called “Europages”.
Innovative partnerships were formed with IBM, Olivetti and Microsoft.
Seat fused with STET and became one of its divisions; STET was a company owned by the Treasury and was also the owner of a controlling stake in Telecom Italia until 1997.
This was the year of the first stirrings of the future Italiaonline: IOL.it was born as a user support site for web browsing and email, along with the Internet service provider ITNet.
Matrix was born, the first Italian web company.
Virgilio was established, “il Bello di Internet” (the beauty of the Internet), which was the first internet portal for unique users in Italy, along with Arianna, “the Italian guide to the Internet”, the first search engine specialised to inventory Italian websites: an IOL project in collaboration with Olivetti and the University of Pisa.
At the end of the year, Seat was split from STET, and went back to being an independent Company.
Seat was listed on the Italian Stock Exchange in January and privatised by private equity investors.
The Acquisition of Seat occured in November by a consortium of private entrepreneurs (Ottobi) that included Telecom Italia, Comit, De Agostini and Investitori Associati.
Ottobi incorporated Seat SpA, which became Seat Pagine Gialle S.p.A.
To meet users’ multimedia demand, Paginegialle.it was born: the Web version of PagineGialle.
The success of Arianna led to Italia On Line’s significant growth, and it was then purchased by the Infostrada group. In the same year, IOL launched Digiland, the future Libero.it community.
Libero.it was born as an Infostrada group portal: from there, Libero began its climb toward having the number one audience in portals, a claim it can still make today. In the same year, Wind Telecomunicazioni and De Agostini bought the service providers ITNet and SEAT Pagine Gialle, as well as acquired control of Matrix (66%), thus entering the Internet sector.
Seat broadened its scope of operations as a result of the Internet boom, using, in addition to paper, other distribution platforms: telephone and the Internet.
“Pronto Pagine Gialle 16.440″ was born, which in 2000 became “89.24.24″, both telephonic directory services that provided users with a customised solution to their searches while on the move. Soon thereafter “89.24.24″ was enhanced by specialised services, such as train and plane schedules, lists of pharmacies open after normal business hours, etc, up to becoming a true “assisted voice portal”.
Building on the success of Paginegialle.it, Paginebianche.it was created (white pages).
The Late 90s
This period marked the beginning of many innovations and new launches. The multimedia era had officially begun. The printed directories were flanked by telephone services.
The Seat controlling shareholders transfered their shares to Telecom Italia.
Seat entered the shareholding Telemontecarlo.
Following the Tin.it operation, Seat Pagine Gialle joined the Telecom Group.
Seat acquired a large number of Internet companies. The Seat Group came to comprise approximately 220 companies.
The name PagineBianche was extended to the alphabetical directory.
Telecom Italia bought Matrix and its portal Virgilio, which then became “Il bello di Internet”, a famous slogan, and was visited by one out of every two Internet users.
Seat Pagine Gialle began to rationalise the group’s structure and its investment portfolio through the disposal of non-strategic assets.
Wind Telecomunicazioni acquired Infostrada: Libero was strengthened even more by this operation and became the number one portal in Italy for page views.
On 1 August, the new SeatPG was established. On this date, a demerger deed was filed with the Milan Company Register, officialising the partial and proportional spin-off of Seat Pagine Gialle S.p.A. (from that moment on “Telecom Italia Media S.p.A.”) through which the group of companies that was active in the directories market (telephone directories, telephonic services and “business information” activities) was transferred in favour of a newly established beneficiary company that took the name Seat Pagine Gialle S.p.A.
On 8 August, Silver, a company owned by a private equity consortium, acquired the controlling stake in the new Seat Pagine Gialle.
Libero, as always an avant-garde portal for technological solutions, was the first in Italy to offer ADSL flat and launched the Jumbo Mail service, which allowed users to send large e-mail attachments from their own email accounts.
In the same year, Matrix passed to Telecom Italia and Virgilio “transformed” into Alice, in synergy with the ADSL service of the same name provided by Telecom.
Through a complex Leveraged Buy-Out, Seat Pagine Gialle’s debt reached 4 billion Euros.
Weather Investments, which is headed by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, became the largest shareholder of Wind Infostrada.
Libero continued to grow and Libero Mail will become, in 2009, the most widespread e-mail service in the country.
Another telephone service, 12.40, was added to the existing service 89.24.24.
On 27 April, the day Google Maps and Google Maps Mobile was launched, Seat PG signed an important partnership with Google, who used the basic directory information from Paginegialle.it.
Libero Video, the first Italian video platform, went online just a few weeks after YouTube.
From 2008 to 2012
Seat Pagine Gialle expanded its business model from a traditional Telephone Directories Company to a Local Internet Company that sells web sites, mobile phone services and a wide range of web marketing services, and also entered new business segments such as e-commerce and couponing.
The multimedia strategy of Seat PG brands gave birth to Tuttocitta.it.
Libero Mail became the most popular e-mail service provider in Italy.
The IT assets of Seat (3.8 million companies and 15 million households) became available everywhere, thanks to the PagineGialle Mobile App for iPhones and Blackberries.
Virgilio reached the record of 12.5 million unique users.
Libero “grew up” with the spin off Libero S.r.l. – a business unit which included the activities of the Libero Portal and the Internet Service Provider Itnet – from Wind Infostrada. It was the first of two very important steps that would take place very soon thereafter…
Seat launched the PagineBianche App and extended the PagineGialle App to all mobile devices.
An agreement was made to restructure Seat Pagine Gialle’s debt: to support the operation industrially, new tactics and sales policies were implemented in order to meet the targets set under the Plan.
Libero S.r.l. acquired Matrix S.p.A. from Telecom Italia and the two main Italian portals, Libero and Virgilio, become brothers in the same group.
TuttoCittà Maps of Seat Pagine Gialle was born.
Italiaonline was established in February (from this point on written without spaces), a company that brought all the brands and assets of Matrix S.p.a. and Libero S.r.l. together.
In December, the merger operation culminated with the incorporation of Matrix S.p.A. in Italiaonline S.r.l., which became Italiaonline S.p.A. in April 2014. It was the first Italian Internet company, with all its web properties and position as the most widespread email provider in the country.
Matrix’s turnaround was successfully completed at both the business level and in the Group’s reorganisation.
The App TuttoCittà Nav was released, a local navigation system that didn’t require web content on the move.
2013 – 2014
Seat Pagine Gialle set off a procedure for an agreement among creditors that had a successful outcome.
In December 2014, at the end of the creditors’ agreement proceedings, the net financial debt was positive, the dilution of the previous shareholders was at 0.25% and warrants were issued.
At the same time, a new business strategy was adopted that focused on the enhancement and development of the sales force and the sustainability of the business model through greater integration of third party products and aggressive actions on cost reduction.
The SeatPG sales network was reorganised into 74 territorial branches located strategically throughout Italy and a relaunch began of the entire product offering owned by the Company (Smartbook, new site www.paginegialle.it, Smart Site, new mobile app); an even more complete media portfolio was created with products from the largest companies in multimedia publishing (Google, Facebook, Sky and others); a powerful corporate organisation rationalization and simplification of Group structure was implemented through the transfer of shares held by the Companies Thomson and Cipi.
In April, Italiaonline S.r.l. became Italiaonline S.p.a.
In March Italiaonline acquired 100% of DADA’s subsidiary Moqu Adv S.r.l., a digital media company with offices in Florence and Dublin.
On 21 May, Italiaonline, Libero Sàrl, Avenue and GoldenTree signed an investment agreement for the integration of Italiaonline S.p.A. and SEAT Pagine Gialle S.p.A. It was the first and fundamental step in the merger of the two companies.
On 9 September, the contributions of Avenue and GoldenTree were finalised in favour of Italiaonline for all the shares representing 53.87% of the share capital of Seat Pagine Gialle.
On 5 October the Public Offering of Mandatory Full Takeover Bid (OPA) began, concerning the ordinary shares of Seat Pagine Gialle.
On 6 November, the takeover bid for SeatPG was closed: Italiaonline held 80.23% of the ordinary shares.
On 20 January the Board of Directors of Seat and Italiaonline approved the merger to incorporate Italiaonline into Seat.
On 8 March, the Shareholders’ Assemblies of Seat and Italiaonline approved the merger to incorporate Italiaonline into Seat.
The deed was signed on 26 May for the merger by incorporation of Italiaonline in Seat Pagine Gialle.
The merger by incorporation was effective as of 11 June: Seat Pagine Gialle took on the name Italiaonline S.p.A. and its registered office was transferred to the Municipality of Assago (Milan), while the operational headquarters were kept in Turin.
The new Italiaonline is ready to be the leader of the digital advertising market for large accounts and local marketing services for Italian SMEs.