Vincenzo Maranghi, the CEO of Italy’s powerful Mediobanca investment banking group, will leave his post after 15 years on April 14. Founded by legendary financier Enrico Cuccia, Mediobanca played a key role in restoring Italian industry after World War II, but it has often been criticized for its autocratic practices and behind the scenes manipulation of Italian finance.
The bank owns a 13.6 percent stake of Generali Spa, Italy’s largest insurance company, and has come under increasing pressure from Italian regulatory authorities and other shareholders to take a less active role in the insurer’s management. It has been seen as responsible for orchestrating the departure of three of the company’s CEO’s in as many years. It also played a behind the scenes role in the recent drawn out dispute over the merger of SDI and La Fondiaria, which eventually took place last year, creating Italy’s second largest insurance group.
According to a report from Dow Jones Newswires Gabriele Galateri, the chief financial adviser to the Agnelli family, who control a majority stake in Fiat SpA, will replace both Maranghi as CEO and Francesco Cingano as board chairman. The bank will still be controlled by a number of Italy’s most powerful financial and industrial corporations, but Maranghi’s departure is seen as signaling that it will be more open and less autocratic in the future.
Cuccia, who oversaw Mediobanca’s operations for 50 years, until his death in 2000 at the age of 92, was widely regarded as the most powerful figure in Italian finance. Operating behind the scenes, he exercised enormous influence over the country’s largest corporations through Mediobanca’s dual role as an investment bank and an investment fund.
Maranghi’s efforts to operate in the same way, however, drew increasing opposition from the financial institutions that control Mediobanca, as well as many corporate leaders who increasingly observed that times had changed. Both the government and the Italian business community have recognized that there is an increasing need for companies to become more transparent and more responsible to their shareholders.
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