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Saipem CEO, Eni CFO Resign Amid Algeria Contract Probe

Saipem SpA Chief Executive Officer Pietro Franco Tali and Alessandro Bernini, chief financial officer at parent company Eni SpA, resigned amid an Italian investigation into contracts in Algeria.

Saipem, Europe’s largest oil contractor by market value, appointed Umberto Vergine to replace Tali, the company said in a statement to the stock exchange. Massimo Mondazzi will replace Bernini, Eni said separately. Tali, 62, had been CEO since 2000; Bernini served as Saipem’s CFO until 2008.

A Saipem contract in Algeria is being scrutinized there as part of a broader inquiry into executives at oil company Sonatrach, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 10, citing people familiar with the situation. Saipem has offered its full cooperation to the Milan Prosecutor’s office.

“Saipem believes that its business activities have been conducted in compliance with applicable law,” it said. The probe won’t have “material adverse effect on results.”

Bernini believes that while his actions were “right and proper,” Eni is better served by his resignation, Eni said.

Saipem fell 4.3 percent to 32.68 euros in Milan today before being suspended for the rest of the session pending a statement. That trimmed the market value to 14.4 billion euros ($18.8 billion). Eni fell 1.8 percent to 17.9 euros.

Saipem also suspended the chief operating officer of its engineering and construction unit, Pietro Varone, who also is under investigation in the probe, and another unidentified manager, the Milan-based company said. Vergine, a director, will oversee the engineering and construction unit, Saipem said.

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