From Mediobanca to Banca Media. Bisignani: now we need a new “vision”

Dear director, from Mediobanca to a medium-sized bank. All that remains of Enrico Cuccia’s historic Mediobanca is the name and logo with the ambrosino, the gold coin minted by the Ambrosian Republic in 1400. The modern merchant bank in fact demonstrates a lack of vision that is losing ground in relation to its competitors such as Rothschild, thus suffering the colonization of the Italian market. Excluding Compass and Generali, today Mediobanca has become a small thing. Under the guidance of CEO Alberto Nagel and the inseparable president Renato Pagliaro, almost 20 years ago the Piazzetta Cuccia bank stopped flying high, becoming similar to a bee. Hornet because its limited size and few economies of scale do not allow it to stay in the air much, without disdaining the arrogant use of the stinger here and there. However, Mediobanca still manages to fly supported by the hot air currents that arrive from Generali’s rich dividend, of which it holds the remaining 13% as a dowry to Nagel da Cuccia, and which feeds international funds, complete with million-dollar fees especially in real estate sector. Whether the weather is good or bad, the Lion of Trieste – where Nagel is now thinking about replacing CEO Philippe Donnet, the new doge who prefers the splendor of Venice to the routine of Trieste, with the current CFO Cristiano Borean – contributes, to around a third of revenues, for the well-being of the Milanese bank and its two top managers, the Scrooges of Italy. But to continue to guarantee control over Generali and its positions, Mediobanca cannot dilute its controlling stake in the insurance giant. For his part, Francesco Milleri, CEO of Luxottica, persisted in continuing the battle against Piazzetta Cuccia since Leonardo Del Vecchio, a great ally of Francesco Caltagirone, wanted to become master of the IEO, the European Institute of Oncology founded by Umberto Veronesi and financed by Enrico Cuccia, who entrusted it to Pagliaro’s care. The latter, faithful to the instructions of his wise mentor, repelled Del Vecchio’s attack who, more out of spite than conviction, began to attack Mediobanca. In fact, Milleri’s objective, given the renewal of the board of directors in October, is precisely to replace Pagliaro as president. He wanted to include former Treasury Minister Vittorio Grilli, but Nagel said no, just as he said no to an old fox like Fabrizio Palenzona, who was a protégé of Vincenzo Maranghi. zo Pelliccioli, the most intelligent of the Italian financiers linked to him since the days of Seat Pagine Gialle, tries to self-perpetuate his position. However, in its long process of entrenchment, it always remains an indelible stain: having impoverished Generali and, therefore, Italy. There is no need to talk about capital increases and therefore the path is clear for Allianz and Axa, which have become the two European giants and also major players in India and China, with Generali slowing down and now on the last rung of the podium in Europe. And now Generali’s strategy is, therefore, conditioned by the management needs of the Milanese investment bank, which guarantees longevity and million-dollar bonuses. But what are Italians interested in witnessing this financial risk? Very little. The strong man who guards the shares of the most important Italian financial group thinks only of himself, completely indifferent to external dynamics. Prevent any aggregation that could give rise to a global giant, such as that, for example, resulting from the merger between Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit. The defenders of the strong move, therefore, in the small areas of power wars between shareholders, making them look more like bankers than big bankers. The besiegers are now heirs of Francesco Caltagirone and Del Vecchio. If there was someone in Government able to see the potential that could be unlocked by freeing Italy’s largest insurance company from Mediobanca’s production interests, the plan to establish an Italian-led global insurance hub would seem clear. But the Government at the moment, as we know, is busy improvising about extra bank profits and other small cabotage measures good for posts on X or Twitter, whatever you want. In Milan, as in Rome, among the few remaining thinking minds there is a great nostalgia for Enrico Cuccia and the First Republic. The contestability of governance is like competition: when it is lacking, it is either weak or monsters are generated. Thinking himself to be the worthy heir of Cuccia, Alberto Nagel, who is accompanied in the Roman palaces and villas by Lorenfinale: the well-known battle fought by two champions like Del Vecchio and Caltagirone passes, from Generali, directly to the Mediobanca fort, with a political scale that may fluctuate depending on the weight of differentiated shares for historical partners Delfin and Caltagirone. Palazzo Chigi, which was supposed to decide on the Capital Law, decides not to do so. Especially because Giancarlo Giorgetti is not convinced of a text that benefits minority lists too much. However, other countries, certainly not relational capitalism like the Netherlands, have made it a “territorial marketing” tool, attracting hundreds of holding companies from all over Europe, mainly Italian, to the country. The decision for the outgoing board to propose its own renewals and replacements may work on Wall Street, but not in a clientele market like Italy. Nagel remembers in this Mario Schimberni that he wanted to transform Montedison into a public company and we know how it ended, precisely because of Cuccia and Mediobanca. To have some influence on these events, the Government should act in two directions: make large companies more contestable, preventing entrenchments from stifling business and the country’s economic potential; secondly, establishing that one cannot run for the board of directors more than twice, raising the professionalism requirements examined, albeit seriously, by Consob and the Bank of Italy. Also to prevent the board from always proposing the same faces or the same “companions”. Giorgia and his ministers have courage. However, as Alessandro Manzoni said referring to Dom Abbondio: “If you don’t have courage you can’t give”

Source: IL Tempo