MILAN, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Italy’s top insurer Assicurazioni Generali must remain Italian, UniCredit’s CEO Jean Pierre Mustier told an Italian daily on Thursday, addressing speculation of a possible takeover by French rival AXA.
Concerns have mounted in Italy that more Italian companies would fall prey to French rivals after Vivendi became the top shareholder in former monopolist Telecom Italia and, more recently, aggressively built a large stake in broadcaster Mediaset.
The appointment of a French CEO at Generali, which is headed by Philippe Donnet, and at UniCredit have further stoked speculation. The head of the Lower House Budget Committee said on Wednesday there was a design to make UniCredit French to tighten the grip on Generali and Mediobanca.
“Let’s stop being paranoid,” Mustier told Italian daily La Stampa. “For me as an ”Italian citizen“ Generali is crucial for the country ... Generali must remain Italian, Mediobanca must preserve the insurer’s independence.”
UniCredit is the top shareholder in Mediobanca which in turn is Generali’s biggest investor.
Mustier also said UniCredit would complete a bumper capital increase it has announced by March 10. (Reporting by Valentina Za)