Italy Politics

In the auto industry, running into a car with the familiar "Brembo" moniker on its brake calipers is not uncommon. Ford fitted a set to its last-generation Mustang, and the Nissan Z and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution featured the company's stoppers for years. Combined with all the brakes Brembo supplies for Porsche, Ferrari and other high-end marques (to say nothing of its extensive motorsports efforts), it should come as no shock that the man in charge of the company is quite wealthy.

Alberto Bombassei is the 73-year-old billionaire controlling Brembo, thanks to a 53.5-percent stake worth $1.2 billion. That stake is held by the family's holding company, whose shares are in turn held by Bombassei's two kids. He recently spoke with Bloomberg about the company's successes via email.

"One of Brembo's greatest fortunes has been the opportunity to enter the world of racing in 1975, when the company started to supply Ferrari in Formula One," Bombassei told the business publication. "This has enabled Brembo over the years to test on the track new technological solutions, which over time have been transferred to road cars and bikes." Brembo will supply clutches and brakes for 7 of the 11 teams participating in the 2014 Formula One season, according to Bloomberg.

With profits up 11 percent, to $1.8 billion in 2012, the racers aren't the only thing bringing in money for the company. "The business is doing well thanks to the company's focus on high-end road cars, a sector growing three-times faster than the auto supplier market in general," Monica Bosio, an analyst for Banca IMI SpA, told Bloomberg. Its good fortune should continue, Bombassei believes. "The fact that Brembo is a family business gives strength to the company," he said. "I don't have plans to reduce my involvement, or to lose control of the company."