Tod's CEO offers to fund Colosseum repair work

Thu Dec 2, 2010 3:03pm EST

* Says firm's ready to provide 25 mln euros for restoration

* Reports say tender failed to attract right sponsors

* Tod's will fund, but doesn't want to organise the work

By Catherine Hornby

ROME, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Italian luxury group Tod's is ready to provide 25 million euros to fund the restoration of Rome's Colosseum, chief executive Diego Della Valle said on Thursday, urging authorities to make a decision on the project soon.

His comments followed newspaper reports that government efforts to attract a pool of private sponsors through a tender had failed and restoration plans were on hold.

"We can't keep reading about pieces of ancient ruins crumbling here and there," Della Valle told a news conference. "Italy has loads of beautiful treasures, and we need to show we know how to look after things in our country."

The vast 80 A.D. amphitheatre, which housed bloody public spectacles including gladiator fights, mock sea battles and animal shows, is one of the world's most famous monuments and attracts more than 18,000 vistors a day.

But it has suffered badly in recent years, and the urgency surrounding its state was highlighted in May when chunks of mortar plunged through a protective netting.

Earlier this year, Italy's cash-strapped government launched a tender to find private sponsors willing to finance the restoration in return for advertising rights, which it hoped to use as a model for restoring other national sites and monuments.

"The offers received were not considered appropriate," Roberto Cecchi, undersecretary at the Culture Ministry told La Repubblica daily on Thursday.

Della Valle said Tod's (TOD.MI) was ready to pay the 25 million euros required but had not taken part in the tender due to the condition that the sponsor must also be responsible for organising the restoration, rather than just providing funds.

He hoped a decision would be made by the end of the year to fit in with the luxury shoe and bag maker's budgeting plans.

He also urged other Italian firms to come forward to provide financial support for restoration work in other sites around the country, such as Pompeii, where several ruins have collapsed in the past month. [ID:nLDE6B01YF]

"One company could deal with the issue of Pompeii, another could look after something else, and we could get to work on hundreds of similar projects," said Della Valle. (Editing by Andrew Roche)