The Agnellis Discover The U.S.

Italy's superrich Agnelli clan, a year after failing to take over French bottled-water group Source Perrier, has set its sights on the U.S. In a deal announced Apr. 12, the Agnelli's Luxembourg-based overseas investment arm Ifint is picking up minority stakes in 18 American companies ranging from Georgia Marble and vitamin retailer General Nutrition to K-III Communications, publisher of Seventeen magazine. The seller: First Chicago. The price: $300 million. More U.S. deals could be on the way for the Agnellis, who control Italy's $41-billion-in-sales car group Fiat. After the First Chicago deal, Agnelli's Ifint still has $700 million in cash in its coffers.