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Generals, final battle – La Stampa

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MILAN. There is nothing worse than having responsibility without information. Vice-president Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone’s resignation from the Generali board, who is now looking ahead, is resolved in a whirlwind of accusations: to the battle in April and, before that, to the counter-plan with which to persuade the market to change course as of next month. The exit, in any case, makes the ongoing clash over the future of Trieste more acute and noisy. On the one hand, the board of directors which – with Mediobanca’s support – wants to re-propose the current CEO, Philippe Donnet. And Caltagirone, in fact, which with Leonardo Del Vecchio, owner of EssilorLuxottica, and the CRT foundation, united in a consultation pact, instead want to give a change of pace with new managers and strategies.

In the letter sent shortly after 8 pm on Thursday, the Roman entrepreneur condenses into three pages (one and a half, if the header is not considered) harsh criticisms of the work of the council which, according to him, “clearly opposed him” . The same accusation that, for months now, Caltagirone has repeated in the board meetings.

The council, according to Caltagirone, would have prevented him from “making his own critical contribution” and ensuring “adequate control”. On what occasions? For example, in the elaboration of the industrial plan with which Donnet hopes to have convinced the market to vote for him again: Caltagirone disputes the methods of presenting the documentation – as was the case with the blitz with which the Leone entered Cattolica, another strong reason clutch -, arrived a few hours before the vote. There are those who point out that Donnet actually dedicated four sessions to the plan, but the Engineer would not have participated in them. The fact is that his is the same grievance that led Romolo Bardin, Del Vecchio’s representative on the board, to stay at home and not participate in the vote. Caltagirone went but, alone, he voted against. And now he presents the bill, perhaps with the hope of unleashing the attention of Consob, which, like Ivass, is following the story closely. And perhaps in view of future legal consequences. In the same way Caltagirone lashes out on the impossibility of affecting the procedure for the presentation of the list by the board, as it took place by majority vote (as required by the statute, they pointed out by the board of directors) rather than by unanimous vote (as he would have wanted). And then he also laments what happened in recent months when the Roman entrepreneur, now determined to do battle, began to shop relentlessly, or almost. Today it is at 8.04%, the second shareholder behind Mediobanca (accused by the pact of making good and bad weather in Trieste and which instead of 13% is at 17.25% by virtue of a securities loan) denounces the modalities of application of the legislation on privileged information: one way, is the suspicion, of preventing purchases by citing the study of extraordinary transactions. This is the hostility described in the letter, to which the president of Leone Gabriele Galateri replies, claiming “absolute transparency and rigorous correctness”.

What will happen now? No one excludes that Bardin – Delfin’s CEO “eyes” and “ears” of Del Vecchio within Generali – may soon follow Caltagirone’s example and leave the board of directors. But the maneuvers will continue. Sources from Delfin, Del Vecchio’s holding company, assure Reuters that the pact, after Caltagirone’s resignation, remains intact. In recent weeks – with the advice of Vittorio Grilli, the former minister now at JpMorgan – the drafting of the counter-plan continues, which the pact members expect to present to their candidates for president and for mid-February.

The private shareholders want to give a new impulse to the Trieste company so that it can return to compete, in terms of capitalization, with the big European companies in the sector. This is why they aim to push on the accelerator, even with targeted acquisitions where the insurance sector shows greater growth opportunities. In the meantime, the Leo council is also continuing to draft its own list, of which a long version should be defined as early as next week in which, subsequently, a first screening should be carried out.

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