By Ed Frankl
Assicurazioni Generali SpA announced late Thursday that its second-biggest shareholder has resigned from the board amid a board row over who will be headed by chief executive Philippe Donnet.
Industry and media tycoon Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone opted to resign over disagreements with the board’s presentation and approval of the company’s strategy, handling of privileged information and dealings with the media and other major shareholders, Generali said in a statement.
“The reasons given can only be categorically rejected, since the company has always conducted its business according to criteria of absolute transparency and rigorous fairness,” said Gabriele Galateri di Genola, CEO of Generali.
Italy’s biggest insurer has been plagued by infighting among some of its board members, with Leonardo Del Vecchio, billionaire chairman of Franco-Italian eyewear company EssilorLuxottica SA, also publicly expressing his desire to change the way the company is run.
In September, Mr Caltagirone and Mr Del Vecchio joined the non-profit Fondazione CRT to push for “more profitable and effective management” of the Trieste-based company, with Italian media citing their desire to improve its wealth management operations.
Mr. Donnet’s decision to increase dividends for Generali investors and launch a 500 million euro ($572.7 million) share buyback program in December was widely seen as a move to strengthen his position at the helm of the company viewed.
Mr Caltagirone and his companies currently hold an 8.04% stake in the company, Generali said, and together with Mr Del Vecchio and CRT control 15%, challenging the insurer’s largest shareholder, Mediobanca SpA, which owns 17.25% controlled.
Write to Ed Frankl at [email protected]