Famous for the tall medieval towers, lengthy porticos and red roofs of its well-preserved historic centre, Bologna, capital of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, was home to this year’s International Tax & European Conference, held on 13-14 May at the elegant I Portici Hotel.
A blend of history combined with a wealth of knowledge from our speakers made this event uniquely valuable. Our 100+ attendees were offered a comprehensive schedule of sessions and activities, together with the opportunity to soak up the fascinating culture of the city.
The two day event started with an overview of the current situation in Italy, delivered by Prof. Anna Soci, Bologna University, which suggested that despite continued financial market volatility globally, consumer spending in Italy is rising, as is investor confidence.
Prof. Soci was followed by Federico Galgano from Galgano Studio Legale. Federico shared his expertise on private equity trends and opportunities and explained why now is probably the best time to invest in Italy.
Russell Bedford’s CEO, Alan Bezzant, gave an update on what’s happening in the network in Europe, followed by an auditing update which was delivered by Andrew Gambier from the ACCA. Andrew introduced current IAASB projects and addressed issues such as professional scepticism, quality control and EU audit reform.
Members also heard guest speakers from two leading multinational enterprises, Fabio Accardi (Astaldi SpA) and Alberto Diari (Mega International), who offered their insights into the importance of establishing a risk management culture.
International tax conference
Day two focused on international tax and began with a look at the tax aspects of the gaming market in Italy, presented by Emilio Iaia (Intralot Italia SpA). Prof. Hans van den Hurk from Maastricht University then delivered a round-up of the hot topics in international tax, such as BEPS, tax & ethics, and the Common Reporting Standard.
Delegates were offered, for the first time at our international tax conference, the opportunity to choose from a selection of specialist breakout sessions. Topics included taxation of share incentives for the internationally mobile employee, led by Clare Munro, and US tax topics impacting global taxpayers by Steve Horn. Prof. van den Hurk ran two separate workshops, developing themes introduced in his earlier plenary session presentation. In one, he looked at the new EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive. In the second, discussion turned to the Panama Papers and Lux Leaks, examining their similarities and moral differences.
Introductions from new member firms
The conference welcomed presentations from new member firms from Copenhagen (Denmark), Tampere (Finland), Düsseldorf (Germany), Apeldoorn (Netherlands), and Halle Westfalen (Germany) who introduced their businesses and objectives for joining the network. The conference also heard from new merger Stolp + KAB on their future business plans.
Culture, food and great company
A big thank you must be extended to our hosts Magagnoli & Associati, especially to Luca Borella and his colleagues, for organising a hugely successful conference as well as a fantastic itinerary of entertainment and networking opportunities. A special thank you to Silvia for coordinating the non-delegate activities, which included a guided walking tour of Bologna.
Delegates, and non-delegates alike, were offered an authentic Italian experience which included dinner on both evenings, musical entertainment and a sightseeing tour of the old town. The final evening ended in spectacular fashion with guests dining amidst thunderstorms as they ate (fortunately under a marquee) in a ‘secret’ garden within the historic centre – Gli Orti di Via della Braina. An atmospheric end to a superb weekend.