Italy's Del Vecchio eyes up to 14% stake in Mediobanca - reports

08/11/2020 | 06:41am
Leonardo Del Vecchio

Italian eyewear tycoon Leonardo Del Vecchio is planning to raise his stake in financial group Mediobanca to 13%-14% after he receives approval from the European Central Bank later this month, two Italian dailies reported on Tuesday.

Del Vecchio, founder of Ray-Ban owner Luxottica, sought ECB clearance in June to lift his Mediobanca holding of 9.9% above the 10% threshold and up to 20%, in a move that raised the prospect of far-reaching changes in Italy's financial landscape.

The ECB's decision is expected by the end of August, a person familiar with the matter said.

The influential Milanese merchant bank has not had a single non-banking shareholder owning more than 10% since it was founded in 1946.

Dailies Il Sole 24 Ore and la Repubblica both reported that Del Vecchio plans to rapidly raise his stake in the group up to 14%.

Both the ECB and a representative for Del Vecchio declined to comment. Mediobanca also had no comment.

Though sources had said in the past the billionaire was eying a bigger holding, traders said expectations of the long-awaited green light had stoked buying.

Mediobanca shares soared 7% in light summer trading, making it one of the top gainers on the Milan bourse.

Del Vecchio's move has fuelled speculation his ultimate goal could be a shake-up involving Generali, Italy's biggest insurer, in which Mediobanca is the single largest shareholder with 13%.

Del Vecchio, 85, has said he aims to create a stable ownership base for Generali and Mediobanca, which for decades pulled the strings in Italy's corporate world. He currently owns 4.8% of Generali.

Shares in Generali were up 4.3% by 1231 GMT, outperforming a 2.9% rise in Italy's blue-chip index.

Mediobanca's board is coming up for renewal in the autumn, but Del Vecchio is not expected to submit a list of board candidates because he will not be seeking representation on the board of directors, sources have said.

(Reporting by Valentina Za; Additional reporting by Giancarlo Navach; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Jan Harvey)

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