MILAN, July 21 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Mediobanca (MDBI.MI) is in tycoon crosshairs again. Construction magnate Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone holds a potential 5% stake in Italy’s best-known bank, regulatory filings revealed on Tuesday. Fellow entrepreneur Leonardo Del Vecchio has surprised markets by acquiring a near-20% position. Together the duo, who are also large investors in $31 billion insurer Assicurazioni Generali (GASI.MI), could control about a quarter of the Milanese bank.
Mediobanca Chief Executive Alberto Nagel has delivered better returns than Italian bank rivals. Yet the tycoons’ investment also gives them power over Generali, in which Mediobanca has a 13% stake. The bank has traditionally picked the insurer’s board, which is up for renewal next year. Generali boss Philippe Donnet has delivered stable profits and built a strong balance sheet. But if Caltagirone and Del Vecchio think it’s time for a new direction, they may now have more scope to try to make that happen. (By Lisa Jucca)