The countdown begins
The decisive month begins for the appointments of large state-owned companies listed on the stock exchange. The “seven sisters” Eni, Enel, Leonardo, Poste, Terna, Enav and Banca Mps. Almost all of the expiring top management will be replaced. The only one expected to be saved should be Claudio Descalzi, Eni’s C.E.O. since May 2014 (he was C.E.O., was promoted by Matteo Renzi, confirmed by Paolo Gentiloni three years later and by Giuseppe Conte in 2020). Descalzi emerged unscathed from a tricky maxi-corruption trial in Nigeria. Control lies with the Economy Ministry, which owns 4.34 % directly and an additional 25.76 % through Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. Eni’s shareholders’ meeting to approve the 2022 budget and appoint the new board that will lead the hydrocarbon group for the next three years is scheduled on the company’s calendar for May 10, in a single call.
On the same day, a meeting is scheduled for Enel, the power company controlled by the Economy Ministry with 23.5%. Virtually unanimous rumors give outgoing CEO Francesco Starace, who has been in the saddle like his peer Descalzi since 2014. Starace has changed Enel’s profile, invested in renewable energy, and achieved good industrial results. The group suffers from high debt, which with rising rates has greatly weakened its stock market listing. The Draghi Government did not like him, because of his handling of Enel’s interests in Russia (where his brother is the ambassador).
For the presidency of Enel, the Lega is pushing a big name, Paolo Scaroni, a manager who made a career in the public sector with the Berlusconi Governments, three years as CEO of Enel (2002-2005) and nine years at the head of Eni (2005-2014). Today Scaroni is the president of Milan. Three are in the running for the Enel CEO role. The frontrunner is Stefano Donnarumma. In May 2020 for Donnarumma there was a jump to the leadership of Terna. Donnarumma has one great merit for Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni: he jumped on the right-wing bandwagon long before the election victory.
Alternatively, another candidate at Enel could be the outsider Gianni Armani, since 2021 CEO of the Northwest municipalized company Iren, but previously a public executive first in the Terna group, then CEO of Anas from 2015 to 2018. Armani is the son of Pietro Armani, a boyar who served for 22 years on the board of Iri, from 1973 to 1995. In 1996, Prof. Armani was elected deputy with Alleanza Nazionale, the former Msi that is now FdI.
The third name circulating for Enel’s leadership is Flavio Cattaneo, executive vice president, and Italo partner. The manager landed in Rome in 2003, chosen by Silvio Berlusconi‘s Government as d.g. of Rai, a friend of Ignazio La Russa and Paolo Berlusconi. Cattaneo served for nine years as managing director of Terna (2005-2014). On March 31, 2016, he was appointed C.E.O. of Telecom Italia, from which he took leave on July 21, 2017, with a severance package of about 25 million Euros. As for Italo, there are rumors of a possible sale; there has been talking of interest from shipowner Gianluigi Aponte, who also proposed for Ita along with Lufthansa a year ago.
On the calendar for state spa nominations, the first meeting is that of Banca Mps, scheduled for April 20 in a single call. President Patrizia Grieco is on her way out, to be seen what the government’s CEO Luigi Lovaglio will decide.
The second assembly on the calendar is that of Enav, scheduled for April 28. The air traffic controller company is headed by a CEO wanted by the M5S, Paolo Simioni. The seat is considered available by the right-wing.
The other assemblies are scheduled for May 8 Poste Italiane, between May 8 and 15 Terna, for which the exact date will be set when the Government has decided whether to move Donnarumma to Enel. In that case, the meeting would be held immediately after that of the power company so as not to leave any holes, and finally Leonardo between May 2 and May 10.
For Poste, CEO Matteo Del Fante, first a rentier (in 2014 Matteo appointed him to Terna’s top job) and then in the good graces of the M5S, is expected to be replaced after two terms. He has already been appointed by the Draghi Government as chairman of the Jubilee 2025. Poste’s number one chair is aimed at co-director general Giuseppe Lasco, a former Guardia di Finanza noncommissioned officer.
For Terna there could also be Armani Jr. if he fails in his quest to scale Enel. But for Poste and Terna, a heavyweight outsider, a manager with a solid Cv who is an expert in networks, could also join the pack of candidates.
There is a change of leadership at Leonardo, a company that has not had a CEO from the aerospace and defense sector for nine years. Defense Minister Guido Crosetto has said, even publicly, that the right candidate to lead Leonardo’s relaunch is Lorenzo Mariani, formerly the group’s commercial director. Under Mariani, who is also the commercial director of the entire Mbda international group (Airbus and Bae Systems are also partners, Leonardo has 25%), Mbda has dramatically improved results.
There are also reports of moves by Gian Piero Cutillo, head of the helicopter division who is based in Lombardy, who may have the backing of the Lega and Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti (his brother is a Leonardo helicopter executive). Perhaps the main uncertainty concerns the role Giorgia will want to assign to Roberto Cingolani, the physicist and former director of Genoa’s IIT whom Profumo hired as head of technology at Leonardo in 2019. Cingolani was minister of Ecological Transition under Draghi and has remained in the Government business as Meloni’s adviser on energy, although he has rejoined Leonardo, which pays his salary. For Cingolani there is also talk of a possible opportunity in the Japanese multinational Hitachi.
There are other expiring boards of directors, especially in the Mef‘s indirect investees. The complete list published on the Mef website includes more than 60 companies and at least 500 seats. In the Fs group, politics will have a voice in choosing the top management of the two most important operating companies, Rfi and Trenitalia, because the two boards of directors expire this spring. For Rfi, which leads the infrastructure hub and will manage a large part of the NRP funds that go to FS, there are already some internal candidates to take Vera Fiorani‘s place, a rare case of a woman CEO of a large company. One candidate is Umberto Lebruto, CEO of FS Sistemi Urbani. Lebruto, however, is among the defendants indicted in the trial for the Pioltello train accident on Jan. 25, 2018, which could hinder his appointment. Another suitor is Gianpiero Strisciuglio from Bari, appointed by Ferraris last May as CEO of Mercitalia Logistics, the freight hub.
At Trenitalia, CEO Luigi Corradi, who arrived in 2020 on the recommendation of the M5S by then undersecretary at Palazzo Chigi Riccardo Fraccaro, is considered to be on his way out. Attempting to recycle with the right-wing Sabrina De Filippis, head of regional transportation, who was already proposed by the M5S three years ago.
The nomination process starts with advisors: three firms selected
Via XX Settembre selected the headhunters who will support it in the choice of candidates for the renewal of the boards of directors of almost 70 subsidiaries. This year the choice would fall on three names, as reported by Radiocor: Spencer Stuart, Key2People, and Eric Salmon. In any case, it would not yet have been defined on which companies each consultant is to provide input.
In parallel, a purely political forum would be in the process of formation, which will deal with the issue of appointments, obviously under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. The leaders of the three governing parties are known: Giovanbattista Fazzolari for Fratelli d’Italia, Alberto Bagnai for the Lega , and Licia Ronzulli for Forza Italia. Now, according to reconstructed reports, the idea would be to widen the table by adding two more components for each party: among the main names circulating are those of Gianni Letta, Antonio Tajani, and Guido Crosetto, but others could certainly be added to these; Lega’s Edoardo Rixi is also indicated as very active.
Memorandum of Understanding with ADNOC
Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi and Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technologies of the United Arab Emirates and Director General of Adnoc, signed a MoU outlining a framework of cooperation for future joint projects in the areas of energy transition, sustainability and decarbonization.
Fincantieri in the United Arab Emirates
The Trieste-based shipbuilding group signed a cooperation agreement with Abu Dhabi Ship Building (Adsb), a subsidiary of Edge Group, a leader in the design, construction, repair, maintenance, refitting, and conversion of military and commercial ships, at Idex 2023, the international conference and exhibition dedicated to defense and security systems in Abu Dhabi.
Fincantieri has been present in the local market since 2008 and delivered three ships built in the Group’s Italian shipyards in 2013. The agreement was signed by Khalid Al Breiki, President of Platforms & Systems of Edge and Vice Chairman of Adsb, and Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of Fincantieri. Present were, among others, the undersecretaries of defense of UAE, Mattar Salem Ali Al Dhaheri, and of Italy Isabella Rauti.
Then in December 2021, Fincantieri signed a memorandum of understanding with the Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company aimed at initiating potential collaborations in the field of advanced technologies and services in the naval, maritime, and industrial sectors.
Tension between Intesa Sanpaolo and Abi
The shakeup caused by Intesa Sanpaolo, which has revoked its mandate for union representation to Associazione bancaria italiana (Abi), is being felt in credit institutions and trade unions. Intesa wants to independently manage its participation in union bargaining. However, membership in the association remains confirmed, the credit group was keen to emphasize.
Intesa Sanpaolo launched a series of initiatives for its employees, including the so-called “short week,” flexible working hours and smart working. Topics that have been addressed for several months at the union table, however without reaching a balance.
Sace move for commodities
Trafigura, a world leader in commodities trading, announced that it has reached a five-year $500 million loan agreement with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (Smbc), a Japanese bank around which major industrial groups from Japan and beyond gravitate.
The agreement will be guaranteed by Sace, a financial and insurance group under the control of the Ministry of Economy and Finance as part of the “Push Strategy” announced to strengthen Italy’s most exposed industrial supply chains in the non-ferrous metals sector, related to transformation and at the same time to open up growth opportunities in the most driving sectors in the medium to long term.
Sace already has a portfolio of operations and investment guarantees totaling about 165 billion Euros. Together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, it offers services to more than 25,000 companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, mostly devoted to exports in 200 foreign markets.
Stellantis results, workers, and electric vehicles
The automotive giant ended 2022 with net income up 26 % to 16.8 billion E uros and net revenues up 18 % to 179.6 billion E uros. Against this backdrop, net synergies reached 7.1 billion E uros, 2 years ahead of the targets announced at the Fca-Psa merger to achieve synergies of 5 billion E uros by 2024. These results jar with what is happening these days in Italy: Corriere Torino writes that companies in the automotive giant’s supply chain are receiving emails from the group’s purchasing managers asking them to revise downward the value of orders.
At the same time, on the workers’ front, in Mirafiori Stellantis has just informed the metalworkers’ unions that in February Saturdays will be working to keep up with the production increase of the electric 500, which is traveling toward 100,000 units a year. A demand that jars with the favorable treatment given to French blue suits. There are not a few observers who, after the merger with PSA, consider Stellantis to be increasingly francocentric: the latest news for Italian workers and suppliers also fuels such doubts.
Currently, Stellantis’ stable of electric vehicles numbers 23 Bevs and is set to double to 47 models by the end of 2024. The ultimate goal is to offer more than 75 Bevs globally and record electric vehicle sales of 5 million by 2030. But to do this, the group is asking the state for money. “Without incentives, electric cars are still too expensive for the middle class,” said No. 1, Carlos Tavares. It is an issue that had led to friction with the Government: Minister Adolfo Urso spoke about all the public funds that have come to Stellantis with development contracts for more than 2.7 billion to which is added the 8.7 billion multi-year automotive contract until 2030.