Generali's second largest shareholder Caltagirone resigns from the board

©Reuters. The logo of an Assicurazioni Generali SpA is seen on a building of their offices in Saint-Denis near Paris, France, February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

(Reuters) – Europe's third-largest insurer Assicurazioni Generali (MI:) said on Thursday that director Francesco Caltagirone has resigned from its board amid a board row between top investors over the reappointment of Generali CEO Philippe Donnet.

Construction and newspaper magnate Caltagirone is Generali's second-biggest investor with an 8.04% stake. He has opposed the reappointment of Donnet, who is backed by Generalis lead investor Mediobanca (OTC:) and a majority of board members.

Generali said in a statement Caltagirone felt frustrated by the board's working methods, particularly its handling of a strategic plan, handling of privileged information, and relations with the media and other shareholders.

Generali Group Chairman Gabriele Galateri di Genola dismissed the reasons given by Caltagirone, saying that the company had always conducted its business with total transparency and rigorous fairness.

Caltagirone began his offensive in April when he refused a general assembly to approve Generali's findings. In September, he reached an agreement with Leonardo Del Vecchio, the eyewear billionaire and Generali's third-largest investor, for advice on decisions about the company.

Smaller Generali investor CRT later joined the advisory deal, which represents a combined stake of more than 16% after Caltagirone and Del Vecchio increased their holdings in recent months.

To counteract their influence, Mediobanca borrowed shares to reach a 17% voting stake. The two fronts will face each other at a general meeting in April to appoint a new board.

Caltagirone and Del Vecchio are ready to endorse an alternative CEO nominee and to present their own list of nominees for the board, people close to the matter told Reuters.

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