Caltagirone to snub Generali AGM to signal discontent -sources

MILAN, April 28 (Reuters) - Leading Generali investor Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone will snub its AGM on Thursday in the first public sign that the businessman is unhappy with the balance of power among shareholders, three sources close to the matter said.

Tensions among investors in Italy’s largest insurer have been brewing behind closed doors, but are expected to intensify as Generali kicks off a months-long process to appoint a new board in spring next year, the sources told Reuters.

Caltagirone, whose business empire spans construction to publishing, recently raised his Generali stake while also building a holding in its top investor Mediobanca.

With a 12.9% stake, Mediobanca is the leading shareholder in Generali, followed by Caltagirone with 5.6%.

By not taking part in Thursday’s annual general meeting, Caltagirone wanted to signal that he is unhappy with the existing shareholder situation at Generali and would like to have a bigger say on strategic decisions, the sources said.

Both Caltagirone and Leonardo Del Vecchio, who is Generali’s third-largest investor with a 4.8% stake and the single biggest shareholder in Mediobanca, have criticised some of Generali’s strategic moves in the past year, sources have previously said.

However, a source close to Del Vecchio said the eyewear magnate would take part in the AGM, which will be held remotely due to COVID-19, and had already filed his vote.

Generali shareholders will be asked to sign off on the financial statements for 2020 and a proposal to pay a two-tranche dividend of 1.47 euros per share.

Caltagirone’s decision not to attend the AGM was first reported by la Repubblica newspaper. (Reporting by Stefano Bernabei, Claudia Cristoferi and Gianluca Semeraro; Writing by Valentina Za; Editing by Alexander Smith)