Italian construction tycoon Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone, billionaire founder of Luxottica eyewear company Leonardo Del Vecchio, as well as banking foundation Fondazione CRT have raised their interest in insurer Generali to over 15%.
This move is aimed at ousting CEO Philippe Donnet and cutting down the clout of main shareholder Mediobanca.
The board of Generali is up for renewal in early 2022 and the nominees include Donnet.
Earlier, Bloomberg reported that the Italian billionaires may come up with an alternative list that excludes Donnet.
At present, Caltagirone, Vecchio-controlled Delfin Sarl, and Fondazione have holdings of 7.6%, 6.1%, and 1.5%, respectively in the Italian insurer.
In September this year, Mediobanca tightened its hold over Generali by increasing its interest to more than 17% from nearly 13% through a stock-lending mechanism.
The same month, Caltagirone and Vecchio reached a shareholder pact on Generali, and secured the support of Fondazione.
The billionaires believe that Generali is failing to cope up with its peers in Europe, such as Allianz and Axa, under the guidance of Mediobanca.
Vecchio plans to position the insurer as a top player in the continent with strong Italian roots, according to a Bloomberg report.
The billionaires also opine that Generali is taking an unambitious acquisition approach, shying away from bidding for asset management opportunities to evade competition with its largest shareholder.
Other Generali moves
Last month, the insurer sealed a deal to acquire rival Cattolica, raising its interest in the latter to 84.5%.
The same month, it was reported that Generali is in discussions to buy Credit Agricole unit La Medicale.
This June, Generali agreed to acquire majority stakes in AXA Affin joint ventures and take sole ownership of MPI Generali to enhance its presence in Malaysia.
The deal involved the purchase of around 53% of AXA Affin General Insurance Berhad and 70% of AXA Affin Life Insurance Berhad.
In July, Applied Underwriters purchased Generali Group’s US speciality lines division.