Chairman of Italy's UniCredit Fabrizio Saccomanni dies suddenly at 76

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ROME (Reuters) - Fabrizio Saccomanni, chairman of Italy's biggest bank UniCredit CRDI.MI and a former Italian economy minister, has died suddenly at the age of 76.

UniCredit announced the death of Saccomanni on Thursday, only a day after the former deputy governor of the Bank of Italy attended the bank’s results presentation in Milan.

“I have lost a friend of great intelligence and humanity, highly competent with a fine sense of culture and wit,” UniCredit Chief Executive Jean Pierre Mustier said.

Saccomanni was appointed chairman of UniCredit’s board, a non-executive role, in April last year as part of measures taken to improve corporate governance. The bank has been run by Mustier, a Frenchman, since July 2016.

“Our daily interactions were both stimulating and intellectually challenging. UniCredit has also lost a chairman who expertly guided the board through a period of intensive challenges, always maintaining a clear strategic vision and a strong sense of direction,” Mustier added in a statement.

Born in Rome in 1942, Saccomanni earned a degree in economics from Milan’s Bocconi university before moving on to postgraduate studies at Princeton in the United States. He held a series of senior roles representing Italy at the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and other European institutions.

Deputy Chairman Cesare Bisoni will take on Saccomanni’s role at UniCredit pending the appointment of a new chairman, the bank said.

Reporting by Stefano Bernabei and Gianluca Semeraro, editing by Silvia Aloisi/Keith Weir/Alexandra Hudson