Air of change within Generali with two of the largest investors in the Italian insurer teaming up, a move could include replacing the CEO Philippe Donnet.
On the one hand, the construction magnate Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone and the founder of Luxottica Leonardo Del Vecchio, that together they own approximately 11% of Generali, have reached an agreement to work together towards “a more profitable and effective management” of the Italian insurer. The board of directors of Generali meets on September 27 to discuss the presentation of a list of directors to be submitted to the vote of the shareholders next year. But if the board list doesn’t represent a major overhaul in management, the two Italian moguls could present an alternative list without Donnet as CEO, close sources said.
Under the agreement, Del Vecchio and Caltagirone will consult each other at the next general meeting of shareholders and will collaborate in the renewal of the board. Their agreement will be open to all investors who support their vision of Generali.
Generali’s links with Mediobanca
Some of Generali’s Italian investors – including Caltagirone – have already pushed for changes in the insurer’s governance and criticized Mediobanca’s influence on the company. The battle over Generali has also had a ripple effect in Mediobanca, whose CEO Alberto Nagel sustains Donnet. Caltagirone and Del Vecchio upped the ante by increasing their holdings in Mediobanca, Italy’s largest publicly traded investment bank. “Investors were expecting a declaration of war after last year’s skirmishes between Generali, Mediobanca and the two tycoons,” said Vincenzo Longo, IG market strategist. “I don’t think this move affects Generali’s strategy in the short term, but it could give the shares a speculative appeal.” While Caltagirone, who is also vice president of Generali, declined to vote to approve the 2020 results, a symbolic move that underscores his disagreement with some insurer executives and their lenders, 86-year-old Del Vecchio got last year. the approval of the European Central Bank to double its stake in Mediobanca to 20% by criticizing Mediobanca’s management for being too passive in seeking growth opportunities and for being excessively dependent on Generali’s profits. Del Vecchio sees the possibility of making Generali known as a top European player with strong Italian roots.