ROME, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Italian publisher Gruppo De
Agostini said on Monday it had started the process to sell its
1.44% stake in Generali but would still be in a
position to exercise its voting rights at the insurer's next
De Agostini said it appreciated the current management of
Generali and expressed esteem for Chief Executive Philippe
Donnet, saying he "stood out for his strategic vision, technical
expertise and managerial thoroughness".
Donnet, at the helm of the insurer since 2016, has come
under fire from two shareholders - Italian businessman Francesco
Gaetano Caltagirone and billionaire Leonardo Del Vecchio - who
have criticised his M&A strategy as too timid and want Generali
to grow further.
The two investors have recently upped their stakes in
Generali, with Caltagirone holding almost 7.2% of the insurer
and Del Vecchio just over 5.72%. A shareholder pact putting the
two together with banking foundation Fondazione CRT overall
holds just above 14% of Generali's shares.
But CEO Donnet can count on the support of the majority of
the board and on Generali's largest shareholder, Mediobanca
, with 17.2% of voting rights.
The insurer is set to hold a meeting in April next year,
when Donnet's term expires and shareholders are due to vote on a
De Agostini said in the statement that the first step in the
disposal of its stake in Generali was the sale of over 2.2
million shares, or 0.14% of the insurer, through a derivative
It added that it would use the funds from the sale "to
pursue new investment opportunities in the near future".
(Reporting by Giulia Segreti, Editing by Louise Heavens)