* Ethics clause fails to win quorum vote
* Government had urged ethics clauses for state-controlled
* Eni new CEO set to take up position on Friday
(Recasts lead, adds CEO comments, analyst)
By Stephen Jewkes
ROME, May 8 Shareholders at state-controlled oil
major Eni rejected a proposal to introduce an ethics
clause in the oil and gas group's bylaws in a setback to the
government's efforts to clean up corporate Italy.
The government-sponsored motion to introduce a clause in
Eni's bylaws that would force managers indicted of certain
financial crimes to step down did not win the required two-third
support at a shareholder meeting on Thursday as institutional
investors, most of them international, voted against it.
The new government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has urged
state-controlled companies to eject from their boards any
director charged of financial crimes in a drive to fight
corruption and improve corporate accountability.
However, some investors and outgoing Eni Chief Executive
Paolo Scaroni have complained that such clauses smack of
government interference in a listed company.
"No company in the world has a clause like this," Scaroni
said on the sidelines of the shareholder meeting.
Corporate Italy has been shaken by a string of corruption
scandals often involving alleged kickbacks to politicians and
The 39-year-old Renzi, whose campaign for change earned him
the nickname "Demolition Man," has gone out of his way to court
the market to lure investments back into the country.
But 39 percent of Eni shareholders present on Thursday,
mostly foreign funds, voted against the Treasury's motion to
have the clause inserted into the group's bylaws.
"This shows the government is out of touch with the market
despite what Renzi says," said one analyst, who asked to remain
After nine years at the helm, Scaroni is set to step down on
Friday after shareholders approved a new board for Italy's
biggest listed company.
Veteran Eni executive Claudio Descalzi, who has helped focus
Eni on lucrative resource discoveries, is slated to be voted new
CEO at a board meeting scheduled for Friday.
Renzi had promised to listen to the market in choosing
executives at state companies, who get nominated every three
(Editing by William Hardy)