Using the Italian and European Union competition authorities databases over the 1991-94 period, this paper analyses the ownership reallocation process in Italy, in terms of the characteristics of acquired firms and the effects of ownership changes. Our results show that acquired firms' financial and profitability characteristics in the years before the acquisition are worse than those of the control sample and that their performance deteriorates as long as the change in ownership approaches. As far as the effects of acquisitions are concerned, the impact is - at best - null, in the short-run as well as four years after the change in ownership. A stratification of the sample allows a separate analysis for three groups of particular operations: privatised firms are only slightly worse than control sample before the acquisition and the performance improvement occurs mainly before and only slightly after privatization; independent firms acquired by foreign multinationals do not differ from the control sample before the acquisition, while their performance worsens after the change in ownership; firms acquired through leveraged and management buyouts perform better than the control sample before the acquisition. These results are consistent with most of the Industrial Organisation literature, except for firms acquired by foreign multinationals.