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UniCredit’s Dieter Rampl Won’t Seek Another Term as Chairman

Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Dieter Rampl won’t stand for another term as chairman of UniCredit SpA as investors including Fondazione Cariverona seek an Italian replacement.

Rampl, 64, a former head of HVB Group, was named chairman of Italy’s biggest lender in January 2006 after the German bank was purchased by Milan-based UniCredit.

“Rampl informed the board of his decision not to be available for a further mandate,” UniCredit said yesterday in a statement. UniCredit’s board term ends in April and shareholders are scheduled to elect new directors on May 11.

UniCredit’s oldest shareholders, the country’s banking foundations, which hold more than 10 percent of the lender, have already started discussions on a list of board candidates. Foundations may have to reduce their weight on the board after international investors increased their stake in UniCredit in a share sale last month.

UniCredit rose 11 cents, or 2.9 percent, to 3.95 euros by 12:07 p.m. in Milan trading, giving the bank a market value of 22.9 billion euros.

Flavio Tosi, Verona’s mayor, said he’s seeking an Italian replacement for Rampl.

“An Italian chairman is now a given,” Tosi said in a text message today. The City of Verona is the largest shareholder of Fondazione Cariverona, one of UniCredit’s biggest investors.

UniCredit may cut the size of the board to 15 members from 23, La Stampa reported earlier this month. Rampl, who presented the plan to the Bank of Italy, has sought to reduce the seats assigned to the lender’s foundations, which include Fondazione CRT and Cariverona, to three from nine, the newspaper said.

Focus on Italy

“We believe that an Italian chairman could potentially increase the focus of the group on Italy,” Manuela Meroni, a Milan-based analyst at Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, wrote in a note today.

Chief Executive Officer Federico Ghizzoni, 56, may be reconfirmed in his role after the bank completed the 7.5 billion euro ($10 billion) share sale in January to plug a capital shortfall and comply with European Banking Authority targets.

Ghizzoni, to entice investors, said he would undertake a cost-cutting reorganization and boost profitability as the bank focuses on four main countries: Italy, Germany, Austria and Poland.

The lender is also reducing staff to help boost profitability after reporting a third-quarter loss of 10.6 billion euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sonia Sirletti in Milan at ssirletti@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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