(Adds comments from former execs)
MILAN Feb 19 (Reuters) - The board of Generali has mandated Chief Executive Mario Greco to pursue legal action and seek damages from two former top executives in relation to past loss-making investments, the Italian insurer said on Wednesday.
The decision follows a November request by Italian insurance regulator IVASS to carry out an assessment of actions by former chief executive Giovanni Perissinotto and former chief financial officer Raffaele Agrusti.
"The group CEO has been given the authority to undertake legal proceedings before the employment tribunal, aimed to challenge and contest the settlement agreements reached with Giovanni Perissinotto and Raffaele Agrusti, to cancel the rights granted to Agrusti by the company, to recuperate the amount paid to Perissinotto, and - for both - to claim damages arising from non-performance in the execution of their duties as employees of Generali," it said in a statement.
Generali, Italy's biggest insurer, had already conducted an internal review of private equity and hedge fund investments made under Perissinotto and Agrusti, but it concluded last year there was no ground for legal action or damages.
Perissinotto, who had been at the helm of Generali for over a decade, was ousted in mid-2012 after clashing with investors led by investment bank Mediobanca frustrated over the group's underperformance. He has been replaced by Greco, who is spearheading a push to boost the insurer's capital base and improve profitability.
In a statement to news agency ANSA, Perissinotto said he was "deeply saddened" by Generali's decision and vowed to defend himself "with the utmost determination".
"I have served the company with loyalty and dedication for more than 30 years and I'm deeply convinced of the correctness of my work," ANSA quoted him as saying.