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Generali Appoints Mario Greco As New Chief

Posted on 04 Jun 2012 by Neilson

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Assicurazioni Generali SpA (G) named Mario Greco, head of general insurance at Zurich Insurance Group AG, as chief executive officer to replace Giovanni Perissinotto, ousted after shares slumped to a 26-year low.

Perissinotto’s powers were revoked “due to the necessity to bring about change in the company’s management,” the Trieste, Italy-based insurer said yesterday. Ten out of 17 board members voted in favor of Perissinotto’s departure, Director Claudio De Conto said. Chairman Gabriele Galateri will act as the interim CEO.

Investors including Mediobanca SpA (MB), the insurer’s biggest shareholder with a 13 percent stake, and Leonardo Del Vecchio, who owns 3 percent of the company, are betting Greco, 52, can revive the performance and strategy of Italy’s largest insurance company. Profit has fallen for four consecutive quarters amid writedowns of assets including Greek bonds and a drop in earnings at the company’s life unit.

Perissinotto is “inadequate to lead Generali,” Del Vecchio, founder of eyewear maker Luxottica SpA, said in a statement June 1. “This was proved by poor operating results, a more than negative perception by markets of his management and more generally his total lack of a strategic vision.” Greco’s appointment would bring a “new pace” to the company, Del Vecchio said.

Mr. Greco, who resigned on Monday from his executive role at Zurich Insurance Group, will inherit an insurer weakened by its 46 billion euro ($57.2 billion) exposure to Italian government bonds and write-offs on some of its equities investments.