ROME/MILAN, April 14 Italy is set to announce
sweeping changes to top management at state-backed firms
including oil group Eni and utility Enel in a
test of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's promises to tackle
cronyism and promote merit.
Renzi, who took office by an internal coup in his
centre-left Democratic Party in February, is expected to present
the list of board members and managers for Italy's public
companies after the stock market close on Monday.
The 39-year-old, nicknamed "Demolition Man" for his campaign
for generational change, has pledged to shake up Italy's cosy
elites as he strives to revitalise an economy struggling to
emerge from its longest recession since the second world war.
He has promised more women executives and a departure from a
nomination process at state-run firms that for years has been
shrouded in secrecy, with top spots dished out via political
horse-trading rather than acknowledged business expertise.
"We're ready with Enel, Eni and (defence company)
Finmeccanica," cabinet undersecretary Graziano Delrio
said in an interview with La Repubblica daily on Monday.
Government and industry sources have told Reuters
long-standing Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni, originally drafted in to
the group from Enel, will not be asked to stay on for a fourth
He is likely to be succeeded by company veteran and current
head of exploration and production (E&P) Claudio Descalzi, who
has helped focus Eni on lucrative resource discoveries.
"If Descalzi is named CEO (of Eni) the market would react
positively since it's a business and not a political choice,"
one Italian oil and gas analyst said.
The 59-year old Descalzi has been at the company since 1981
and is one of the most respected E&P men in the business.
He became E&P head in 2008 and since then, commuting between
London and Milan, has worked with Scaroni to focus Eni more on
the lucrative E&P side of business, boosting time to market on
projects, and strengthening the group's asset portfolio.
Experience is also expected to win the day at Italy's No. 1
utility Enel, where current CEO Fulvio Conti, also in his third
term, is seen making way for Francesco Starace, currently at the
helm of Enel Green Power, Enel's renewable power unit.
The 58-year old Starace, a nuclear engineer by training, is
a former head of the utility's power generation business at the
time Enel acquired Spanish utility Endesa.
The boards of groups such as Eni, Enel, Finmeccanica and
power grid operator Terna are renewed every three years
at shareholder meetings typically held in May.
In March the government sent a letter to state-owned groups
calling for a tightening of corporate governance requirements as
part of its drive to fight corruption.
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Lisa Jucca and Mark