Generali SpA, Italy’s largest insurer, has reconfirmed the positions of Antoine Bernheim as Board Chairman and Giovanni Perisinotto and Sergio Balbino as co-Chief Executives for an additional three-year period, while adding four new members to its management board, at a shareholders’ meeting on Saturday.
The reappointment of the three men represents somewhat of a compromise between the powerful Mediobanca, Generali’s largest shareholder with a 13.6 percent stake, and the four Italian banks, Unicredito Italiano (3.635%), Capitalia (3.472%), Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (3.107%) and Banca Intesa (1.9%), who are contesting its dominant position at Generali.
They are also shareholders in Mediobanca, and earlier this month forced out its CEO Vincenzo Maranghi, who was perceived as running Generali from behind the scenes, and was widely seen as responsible for forcing out three Board Chairmen in as many years. Bernheim, who has close ties to Mediobanca, replaced the last one, Gianfranco Gutty, last September.
The new board members appointed at the meeting were Alessandro Ovi for Unicredito Italiano, Giuseppe Guizzi representing Capitalia, Luigi Arturo Bianchi on behalf of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Alessandro Pedersoli, representing Intesa. They will replace four members who have resigned.
The arrangement leaves Generali’s current management team in place, apparently with the understanding that they will cooperate with the banks in running the company. The insurer posted a 754 Euro ($834 million) net loss in 2002, it first non-profitable year since the 1970’s, largely as a result of the writedowns it made in its equity portfolio.
Efforts are now focused on returning Generali to profitability by concentrating on its core businesses.
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