By Ed Frankl
Assicurazioni Generali SpA said late Thursday that its second-largest shareholder has resigned from the board, amid a boardroom battle over the direction of Chief Executive Philippe Donnet.
Industrial and media magnate Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone chose to step down citing disagreements with the board's presentation and approval of the company's strategy, approach to privileged information, and handling of the media and other major shareholders, Generali said in a statement.
"The reasons given can only be categorically rejected as the company has always conducted its business according to criteria of absolute transparency and rigorous fairness," Generali Chairman Gabriele Galateri di Genola said.
Italy's largest insurer has been beset 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 company's leadership.
In September, Mr. Caltagirone and Mr. Del Vecchio joined with nonprofit Fondazione CRT to push for a "more profitable and effective management" of the Trieste-based company, with Italian media citing their desire to pump up its asset-management operations.
The decision by Mr. Donnet to boost dividends to Generali investors and start a 500 million euro ($572.7 million) share-buyback program in December was widely seen as a move to shore up his position at the top of the company.
Mr. Caltagirone and his companies currently hold a stake of 8.04% in the company, Generali said, and together with Mr. Del Vecchio and CRT control 15%, challenging the insurer's largest shareholder Mediobanca SpA, which controls 17.25%.
Write to Ed Frankl at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires