UniCredit CEO Talks Said to Focus on Wider Management Change

  • Several candidates said to have pressed for management changes
  • Investors said to favor overhaul to pave way for restructuring

UniCredit SpA’s talks with potential candidates to succeed Federico Ghizzoni are focusing on a wider management overhaul as Italy’s largest lender edges closer to appointing a new chief executive officer, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.

Some investors have signaled they favor replacing some of the lender’s 13 top executives to break with the past and pave the way for a wider restructuring, said one of the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Candidates in talks for the top job are pressing for assurances that they will be able to make management changes, another person said.

Ghizzoni, 60, agreed to step down after almost six years at the helm as the lender struggled to cut back its soured loans, restore profitability and raise capital buffers. Italian banks have been among the hardest hit by a selloff sparked by the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union, compounding a drop in shares that has seen UniCredit lose about 60 percent of its market value this year.

A spokesman at UniCredit declined to comment.

UniCredit should choose a CEO with a high international standing, able to push through management discontinuity and implement sound strategies that will help relaunch the bank, an official at Fondazione Cariverona said. Fondazione Cariverona, one of UniCredit’s biggest shareholders, has a 2.8 percent stake.

The bank’s nomination committee, supported by Egon Zehnder International Inc., will meet Thursday to make another push toward choosing a candidate to propose to the board or submitting a shortlist of candidates for the top job, one of the people said. Ghizzoni agreed to stay in his role until a successor is found.

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA CEO Corrado Passera, Mediobanca SpA’s CEO Alberto Nagel, Unione di Banche Italiane SpA’s CEO Victor Massiah, the head of Credit Agricole SA’s Cariparma unit Giampiero Maioli, and Intesa Sanpaolo’s general manager Gaetano Micciche are considered for the job, people have said. Other candidates include Marco Morelli, head of Bank of America Corp.’s Italian operations; Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena CEO Fabrizio Viola; UBS Group AG investment-banking chief Andrea Orcel; and former UniCredit investment-banking boss Jean-Pierre Mustier, the people said.

The Italian government is considering injecting capital into some lenders battered by the latest market turmoil in the wake of the U.K. referendum, people familiar with the talks said on Monday. Authorities are weighing measures that may add as much as 40 billion euros ($44 billion), according to one person.

UniCredit fell 1.5 percent to 1.88 euros in Milan after declining about 30 percent over the past two days. The lender is the second-worst performer on the 39-member Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index this year.

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