MILAN, Oct 12 (Reuters) - French billionaire Vincent Bollore, the second biggest investor in Mediobanca, has thrown his weight behind the Italian bank’s chief Alberto Nagel, who has come under attack by new Mediobanca shareholder Leonardo Del Vecchio.
Del Vecchio, the 84-year-old founder of eyewear giant Luxottica, has openly criticised Nagel’s management choices after snapping up 6.94% of Mediobanca last month in a surprise move that made him its third-biggest investor.
Bollore owns 7.85% of the illustrious Milanese bank which used to pull the strings of corporate Italy and still plays a prominent role in it.
The French billionaire a year ago announced he was exiting a shareholder pact that for two decades had bound his Mediobanca stake, ensuring a stable shareholder base at the merchant bank.
“Though we quit the pact after twenty years, we’ve always been, and we still are, very satisfied with the way Nagel and his team have run the bank,” a spokesman for Bollore said on Saturday.
The spokesman also denied there had been any contacts between Del Vecchio and Bollore.
The comments were reported earlier by Il Sole 24 Ore daily, which also said other Mediobanca shareholders, such as Italy’s Gavio and Doris families, shared Bollore’s views.
Nagel’s mandate comes up for renewal next year. A source familiar with the situation has told Reuters Del Vecchio wants to change Mediobanca’s governance rules to give him a say in the choice of the next chief executive.
On Friday he stepped up his call for changes at the bank and urged for more growth via acquisitions, after saying earlier in the week it had to play a bigger role in investment banking in Italy and Europe.
Reporting by Valentina Za Editing by Clelia Oziel