(Adds details from Glass Lewis report and background)
MILAN, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Leading proxy adviser Glass Lewis has joined rival ISS in recommending Mediobanca shareholders vote for a slate of directors put forward by the outgoing board, two sources close to the matter said on Wednesday.
The decision signals confidence in the Italian bank’s management ahead of a shareholder meeting on Oct. 28 to renew the board, at a time when changes in Mediobanca’s ownership structure stoke uncertainty over its future.
Shareholders in Italy’s leading merchant bank must choose among three rival slates of board candidates, including one filed by activist fund Bluebell that has criticised the bank’s management.
Eyewear tycoon Leonardo Del Vecchio last year emerged as Mediobanca’s main shareholder, in a shock move for an institution that has never had a non-banking investor holding more than 10% since it was founded in 1946.
The 85-year-old Luxottica founder recently raised his stake above 10% after getting the green light from the European Central Bank. He has said he will consider all three slates.
Glass Lewis picked the list filed by the outgoing board, which confirms current Chief Executive Alberto Nagel as director for the next three years.
Glass Lewis said in its report that minority investors would still get to appoint two directors even if the current board’s list got the most votes.
The two seats for independent board members could be filled either by candidates put forward by Bluebell or by those proposed by a group of institutional investors.
“Given the unique and contested nature of this year’s election...we would find either outcome for the rounding out of the board acceptable for unaffiliated shareholders. Therefore, we believe shareholders would be best served by voting in the affirmative for the board’s slate,” it said. (Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi and Gianluca Semeraro, editing by Valentina Za, Kirsten Donovan)
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