Mediobanca's Nagel faces his critics
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Mediobanca's Nagel faces his critics

Leonardo Del Vecchio’s arrival as the biggest shareholder in Mediobanca caught CEO Alberto Nagel off guard, stirring debate about Nagel’s handling of the bank’s stake in Generali. Nagel insists he can find an acquisition in wealth management that is good enough to justify selling. But is his and Mediobanca’s influence in the country on the wane?


Illustration: Kevin February

Something would surely be wrong if a firm’s management sees a big purchase of its shares as a negative development, particularly when some of its other big shareholders are selling out.

Maybe it’s different when the buyer is an octogenarian billionaire known for fighting for his right to corporate influence and the main seller is one of your key competitors in banking. You might have even more questions when that billionaire is a rival powerbroker in a crown jewel of the national financial system: one in which your companies are both top shareholders, with potentially conflicting objectives.

Until now, there has been little sign of Mediobanca’s management – including its longstanding chief executive, Alberto Nagel – opening its arms in welcome to Leonardo Del Vecchio’s stake-building. Perhaps that’s not surprising given the recent history of their relationship and an apparent lack of communication between the two.

Italian banking circles are awash with rumours of a clash coming when Nagel’s term as chief executive ends next year.

Del Vecchio is the biggest shareholder of Italian-French eyewear manufacturer EssilorLuxottica, which owns Ray-Ban, Oakley and many other brands and businesses.

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