ROME - An Italian producer of electronic gates left assets worth 1.7 billion euros to the Catholic Church in his will including a majority stake in his company, news reports said on Tuesday. Michelangelo Manini died on March 17 at the age of 50 and also left properties, bank accounts and shareholdings to the diocese of Bologna, which took part in its first board meeting of the company, FAAC, on Monday. “We will continue the work of our benefactor in the interests of FAAC and its employees,” Andrea Moschetti, the lawyer appointed by the Church to manage its assets, was quoted as saying by business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

Moschetti also ruled out selling the Roman Catholic Church’s stake to a group of French minority shareholders who hold 34 percent of the company.

“Given the nature of the new owner, the aim will be to create a company with a strong ethical code,” he added. The Church said earlier that the money would help “the needs of humanity under the evangelical commandment of charity”.

FAAC, founded by Manini’s father in the 1960s, has some 1,000 employees, operations in 12 countries and an annual turnover of 214m.