Generali CEO Philippe Donnet assured plan despite revolt

Apr 22, 2022 | Billionaire News

Philippe Donnet

MILAN (Reuters) – Despite opposition from some investors, Generali boss Philippe Donnet is confident he can deliver on his plans for the Italian insurer and is unconcerned about the outcome of what some investors call a “soap opera.”

Generali’s shareholders will vote next Friday (April 29) on whether to give Donnet, 61, a third term as CEO.

An Italian shareholder battle pitting Italian billionaires Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone and Leonardo Del Vecchio against Mediobanca has cast doubt on his reappointment (MDBI.MI). more

Generali’s second and third-largest shareholders are Caltagirone, 79, and Del Vecchio, 86.

“I’m not worried because it’s not my role,” Donnet told Reuters in Milan.

There are two very different visions of what Generali’s governance should look like, according to the company’s best practices.

Caltagirone has proposed as CEO Luciano Cirina, who ran Generali’s Austria and CEE business until March, and pledged to nearly double Generali’s earnings per share by 2024.

“Investors liked our plan and backed us up. They value the plan’s ambition, credibility, and realism “It’s been a great trip,” Donnet said after London,

Donnet said Generali would meet its financial goals despite the Ukraine war because he successfully navigated the company through the pandemic

Despite current geopolitical challenges, he is confident the plan will be achieved.

Concerning Generali’s Russian operations, Donnet said the insurer was working to wind down its Europ Assistance operations, whose sole client is Volkswagen (VOWG p.DE) while freezing its stake in local insurer Ingosstrakh.

“We don’t want to sell, and we don’t want to negotiate with Russians.”

Donnet said institutional investors, who own roughly a third of Generali, struggled to comprehend an Italian “soap opera”.

“Investors are rational beings and they’re perplexed,” said Donnet, who is Italian and French. “It’s hard to explain because I’m a rational being.”

The rebel investors blame Donnet for Generali’s market value decline, despite the sector’s best total shareholder return since 2016.

Generali has allocated 3 billion euros for M&A, compared to the challengers’ 7 billion euros.

Donnet said the M&A budget was “enough to close good deals,” but “good deals mature slowly.”

It took six years of bilateral negotiations to acquire the French healthcare professional insurer La Medicale, he said.

Generali would not hesitate to spend more than the allotted 3 billion euros if “the dream acquisition” came along.

“We can tap the cash market. I am confident we can do it because our investors trust us “said he

 

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