The Rise And Rise Of An Italian Cyberplayer

Paolo Panerai is parlaying his media group into a Net power

It's a funny thing about Paolo Panerai, the founder and chief executive of financial publisher Class Editori. At Santini, a popular Milanese restaurant, the news on the market monitor perched above the bar is stunning: Class shares have broken another record--which means that on this rainy afternoon in early May, Panerai's stake is worth almost $500 million. But Panerai doesn't even glance at the screen. "It's all virtual money, since I haven't sold a single share," Panerai says. The 52-year-old Tuscan is far more interested in describing his new online publishing projects. "I just want to make independent newspapers."

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