January 20, 2009 / 7:59 PM / 10 years ago

UniCredit panel meets on board reshuffle

MILAN, Jan 20 (Reuters) - UniCredit SpA’s (CRDI.MI) governance committee met for just over two hours on Tuesday, a first step towards a board reshuffle that could replace the chairman and give Libya a seat at Italy’s number-two bank.

Participants declined to comment after the meeting.

UniCredit said in a statement that the panel discussed guidelines for setting criteria to name board members.

The committee agreed unanimously on the need to arrive at a final decision in a short period of time. It asked its chairman to contact shareholders so that the panel could submit a proposal to the board at a Feb. 12 meeting, it said.

Sources close to the matter said on Monday the panel would discuss the number of board seats — now at 23 — but not their distribution.

Any readjustment could take into account UniCredit’s purchase of Rome’s Capitalia in 2007 and the 4.6 percent stake taken by Libya’s Central Bank last year, making it the bank’s No. 2 shareholder.

Newspapers have speculated that Vice Chairmen Gianfranco Gutty or Fabrizio Palenzona could replace Chairman Dieter Rampl. The pair represent top shareholder Cariverona foundation and No. 2 Italian stockholder CRT foundation, respectively.

Changes would have to be approved by a shareholders’ meeting, expected in April or May.

UniCredit is the Italian bank most exposed to the credit crisis because of its extensive European operations. (Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro, writing by Ian Simpson, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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