The outcome of the Mediterranean Conference held in Florence in 1906 was favourable to the Italian shipping lines, who obtained a larger share of the passenger trade from Italy to America. As a consequence, a few Italian entrepreneurs decided to enter the lucrative migrant trade. The most important of these new companies was the Lloyd Sabaudo, founded in Turin in that same year of 1906, with Genoa as the port of operation and of registry of their ships. The birth of the Lloyd Sabaudo caused concern among the existing Genoese shipowners, particularly Navigazione Generale, who immediately realised that the new company would be a serious competitor. As its name suggested, the Lloyd Sabaudo (“Lloyd of Savoy”) had Royal connections: it was financially supported by the Duke of Aosta’s branch of the House of Savoy, the Italian Royal family. NGI soon realised that their aggressive tactics against their competitors could hardly be used against the new company with its strong connections with the central power in Rome. The debt incurred in starting the company and in creating its fleet and the effects of the Great War meant that the early years of operation were critically difficult for the Lloyd Sabaudo but by the ‘Twenties it was growing rapidly. It absorbed the Cosulich group of Trieste which, in addition to the “Società Triestina di Navigazione” (the Cosuich Line) and the “Lloyd Triestino”, also included the Monfalcone shipyards and had a controlling interest in the San Marco and San Rocco yards and the “Fabbrica Macchine Sant’Andrea”, an engine-building concern, all of which were based in Trieste and had been very active since the mid-XIX century.
In 1932, the Lloyd Sabaudo and its Cosulich Line subsidiary were, together with the NGI, absorbed by the new national shipping company, Italia Flotte Riunite. It should be noted, however, that in the case of the Lloyd Sabaudo this was not a rescue operation: the company was one of the very few transatlantic lines to maintain a positive balance sheet after the worldwide financial crisis of 1929
On the 21st June, 1906 in Turin, Alessandro Cerruti and Eduardo Canali signed the deed recording the foundation of the Lloyd Sabaudo shipping company. Both were well-known in the Genoese business world, Cerruti in the maritime sector and Canali in insurance. Since the XIX century, Cerruti had been a maritime agent and had chartered ships for the emigrant trade. In 1904, he had bought out the famous agency of Gio Batta Gastaldi, founded in Genoa in 1860.
Commemorative card for the first sailing ever of a Lloyd Sabaudo liner, the Re d'Italia, on the 4th April 1907, "In the August presence of their RR.HH: the Duke and Duchess of Genoa and of the Prince of Udine. Note the first flag and logo of the new shipping company.
A "triptych" brochure produced by Barabino & Graeve of Genoa in 1923 for the new flagships Conte Rosso and Conte Verde; it contains also a large, folded colour cutaway of the liners.
The foundation of the Lloyd Sabaudo was prompted by the 1906 Mediterranean Conference. Just months previously, the British company Prince Line had ordered two emigrant liners from the Sir James Laing & Sons shipyard at Sunderland (England), the Piedmontese Prince and her sister, the Sicilian Prince, with the intention of placing them on the Genoa – New York route. Alessandro Cerruti was the Italian agent for the Prince Line and when the outcome of the Mediterranean Conference caused them to reconsider their plans, he consulted his friend Eduardo Canali and they decided to take over the contract with the English shipyard for the building of the two ships and to become shipowners themselves. The order was, in fact, increased to three ships which were now named Re d’Italia (i.e. King of Italy), Regina d’Italia (Queen of Italy) and Principe di Piemonte (Prince of Piedmont). On the 7th April, 1907 the Re d’Italia sailed from Genoa on her maiden crossing to New York: it was the beg