July 10, 2018 / 11:07 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Banca Carige investor asks for shareholder meeting to remove board

(Adds Carige statement, context, shares)

MILAN, July 10 (Reuters) - Banca Carige investor Raffaele Mincione has asked for a shareholder meeting to vote on removing the bank’s board and appointing a new one, the latest blow to the Italian lender’s attempts to fix its corporate governance.

Chairman Giuseppe Tesauro and two board members resigned in recent weeks due to a row over the running of the Genoa-based bank.

Carige has long been dogged by governance issues and investment bankers say concerns about potential shareholder conflicts complicate its search for a merger partner.

Mincione emerged this year as one of Carige’s top shareholders with a 5.4 percent stake but failed to attain a board seat.

He said in a statement that Carige’s governance had “suddenly deteriorated”, putting at risk the implementation of restructuring measures approved by the European Central Bank.

Carige said in a separate statement that Mincione had asked for a shareholder meeting to be held as soon as possible but not earlier than the second week in September. His requests would be discussed at a board meeting on Tuesday, the bank added.

The Genoa-based bank struggled to pull through a cash call demanded by regulators at the end of last year. Under Chief Executive Paolo Fiorentino, a former veteran UniCredit manager, the bank is working to reduce the burden of bad debts.

Former Chairman Tesauro told two newspapers that Fiorentino was acting too independently and wanting to turn Carige into a public company where “he alone has a say”. The CEO denied this.

Investment bankers voiced concerns about the influence top shareholder Vittorio Malacalza, who owns 20.6 percent of Carige, exerts over the bank.

Fiorentino arrived at Carige in July 2017 after Malacalza fell out with the previous CEO Guido Bastianini. Malacalza had also pushed out Bastianini’s predecessor.

The bank, which swung to a first-quarter net profit thanks to lower loan losses, is rushing to tap a state guarantee scheme which risks expiring in September to ease the sale of 1 billion euros ($1.17 billion) in bad debts via a securitisation deal.

It is also in talks with investors to shed up to 500 million euros in loans which are not yet in default but are unlikely to be repaid in full.

Carige shares were flat at 0.0084 euros by 1003 GMT, compared with a 0.2 percent fall in Milan’s banking index .

$1 = 0.8533 euros Reporting by Francesca Landini and Agnieszka Flak Editing by Edmund Blair

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