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  • UniCredit races against time to replace CEO

    MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s biggest bank UniCredit SpA is racing against time to replace its chief executive, ousted in a clash with shareholders, but finding the ideal candidate seems almost impossible.

    Facing central bank pressure for a quick succession, UniCredit might have a replacement picked as soon as Thursday, just nine days after Alessandro Profumo quit as head of Italy’s most multi-national bank.

     

    Its board will meet in Warsaw, where UniCredit owns Bank Pekao. The succession is expected to be on the agenda, with a new director general’s post to balance the CEO also under consideration via Global financial crisis.

     

    UniCredit’s appointments committee could meet ahead of the board, a necessary step to naming a CEO, a source close to the issue said. Chairman Dieter Rampl has taken over as acting chief executive.

     

    No single preferred replacement has emerged, two sources close to the issue have said.

     

    And finding an ideal successor for Profumo — architect of UniCredit’s rise from regional Italian lender to pan-European player — will be tough, analysts and observers said.

     

    Profumo “is a banker with a wide view of business, global. In general bankers in Italy are more provincial, more local,” said Gianni Dell’Orto, head of Neusearch, a Milan executive search firm.

     

    “So finding a gentleman that knows about banking, that can take the place of Alessandro Profumo, it’s not easy. It’s extremely difficult.”

     

    The checklist for the ideal candidate would include running big bank operations, knowledge of commercial banking in Italy and a high international profile, not to mention fluent Italian, Dell’Orto and analysts said.

     

    A good relationship with non-profit shareholder foundations holding a total of 11 percent of shares would also be vital.

     

    STRONG FOUNDATIONS

     

    Profumo’s exit came after a clash with foundations and other shareholders over Libya’s growing stake. The Libyan move was the last straw for foundations and other shareholders fed up with UniCredit’s lagging performance and other clashes with Profumo.

     

    “The foundations would obviously like to find an Italian, with a lot of banking experience and a high profile and who is keen to listen to their suggestions. It’s basically impossible to find someone, I think they have a very difficult task,” said a Milan-based analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity.

     

    Sources have said one top candidate is Roberto Nicastro, UniCredit’s 45-year-old retail chief and one of four deputy chief executives.

     

    Newspapers have also mentioned Deputy Chief Executive Federico Ghizzoni, the 54-year-old head of central and eastern Europe, in tandem with Nicastro, with one taking the CEO job and the other becoming director general.


    Sep 30 10:22 AM | Link | Comment!
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