Generali investor looking to ‘awaken the lion’ with new leadership

Grand plans to boost firm's earnings under new management follow suspension of CEO nominee

Generali investor looking to ‘awaken the lion’ with new leadership

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

One of Generali’s major investors has unveiled his plans for the company, pledging to boost the insurer’s earnings and enable more capital for acquisitions under new leadership – but it all involves replacing the current leadership.

At a news conference last Friday, Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone – Generali’s second largest investor – dubbed his plan for the company “Awakening the Lion.” A play on Generali’s nickname as “The Lion of Trieste,” Caltagirone said that he wants to increase the insurer’s earnings per month, including from acquisitions, by more than 14% over the 2021-2024 period. The investor also aims to reduce the cost-income ratio to 55% from 64%, and raise the capital for mergers and acquisitions to €7 billion.

To accomplish this plan, Caltagirone wants to replace incumbent CEO Philippe Donnet with his pick for the leadership role: Luciano Cirina, who had served as head of Austria and CEE countries until he was suspended by Generali last week.

Cirina was present at the news conference with Caltagirone last week and described the plans as “ambitious but achievable,” Reuters reported.

In addition to Cirina, Caltagirone had also put forward his pick for the chairman role – former Goldman Sachs banker and former chairman of CDP Claudio Costamagna – ahead of Generali’s shareholder vote on April 29, 2022. Caltagirone is supported by fellow Italian businessman, Luxottica chairman and Generali’s third largest investor Leonardo Del Vecchio, who has also challenged Donnet’s leadership.

There is some pushback to Caltagirone’s plans, as Generali’s outgoing board maintains that Donnet had led the company to its best performance last year. Donnet’s plan for the company was also received “very positively,” the board added in a statement. Backed by leading shareholder Mediobanca, the outgoing board has selected Donnet to serve a third term as Generali’s CEO, and nominated Andrea Sironi – Bocconi University dean and member of the board of directors of the London Stock Exchange Group – as chairman.

Reuters reported that approximately 35% of Generali’s share capital is held by institutional investors, while small savers hold 23%.

Related Stories

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!