The great and the good of UniCredit win an audience with the Pope.
Among the more unexpected press releases to land in Euromoney’s inbox in January was one from UniCredit that included photos of the bank’s leadership together with Pope Francis in Rome.
Was chairman designate Pier Carlo Padoan extending his search for a replacement for outgoing CEO Jean Pierre Mustier as far as the Vatican? Or perhaps Mustier, who was also in attendance, was pitching for even higher office after he leaves UniCredit?
The real reason, it emerges, was Mustier’s characteristically ascetic decision to get rid of UniCredit’s vast art collection, putting the proceeds from the sale into social initiatives instead.
The audience with Pope Francis came about as UniCredit presented him with three of its most cherished paintings: two Renaissance religious works and the 20th-century Portrait of Mother and Daughter by Antonio Donghi.
The proceeds from the sales of these works will go to charities of the Pope’s choosing. The Holy Father gave the group a couple of minutes before getting back to his day job.
Let’s hope he included UniCredit’s bedevilled share price in his prayers.