Norway’s oil fund rejects Rome’s candidate for Enel chair


Norway’s oil fund mentioned it might reject Rome’s choose to chair Enel, in a public snub to Giorgia Meloni’s authorities forward of the state-backed utility’s shareholders’ assembly.

The world’s greatest sovereign wealth fund, which owns a 2.2 per cent stake in Enel, mentioned it might vote towards Paolo Scaroni on the normal assembly on May 10. It will as an alternative assist Marco Mazzucchelli, the candidate put ahead by London-based hedge fund Covalis.

The tussle is a symbolic act of defiance because the Italian state is Enel’s largest shareholder with a 23 per cent stake, which implies Scaroni’s appointment will in all probability cross. But it’s unusual for the usually conservative Norwegian state fund to publicly again an activist over an organization’s administration, and notably a authorities proposal.

“Our starting point in Italian board elections is to support candidates presented by minority shareholders to strengthen board independence,” Norway’s oil fund informed the Financial Times.

An in depth ally of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, 76-year-old Scaroni is a fixture of Italian company life. As chief govt of Eni for 9 years, he has been instrumental within the oil group’s enlargement in Russia. He has come underneath fireplace from international buyers, together with for criticising the EU’s dealing with of the power disaster and its sanctions towards the Kremlin. In September Scaroni mentioned the curbs would profit huge oil exporters “such as Norway and the US, which makes my blood boil.” He was Enel’s chief govt twenty years in the past.

Enel mentioned it couldn’t remark within the run-up to its shareholder assembly.

Last month Covalis, which holds a 1 per cent stake in Enel and is run by Lithuania-born Zach Mecelis, offered an alternate slate of board candidates for Enel, saying “the selection process lacked transparency”. 

Mecelis mentioned he needed the “toxic” course of to finish as a result of it hindered the corporate’s stock market valuation. “Shareholders should get to choose. It’s a matter of governance and transparency,” he added.

Proxy advisers Glass Lewis and Frontis additionally backed the hedge fund. Mazzucchelli was higher positioned than Scaroni to counterbalance the affect of the chief govt on the board, Glass Lewis mentioned.

Mondrian Investment Partners, which owns a 1.7 per cent Enel stake, additionally backed Covalis, saying it was “concerned” about Rome’s picks and “disappointed” in regards to the lack of transparency.

The Norwegian fund may also again an alternate record of administrators, albeit not that of Covalis. It determined to facet with board members put ahead by Assogestioni, the home fund trade trade physique. In Italy minority shareholders get three board seats out of 9.

Proxy adviser ISS, which mentioned a number of the proposed director candidates “lacked relevant skills and experience”, additionally suggested shareholders to again Assogestioni’s record.

The state-backed candidate for chief govt is Flavio Cattaneo, the vice-president of high-speed rail operator Italo and a former chief of grid operator Terna and telecommunications group Telecom Italia.

Covalis, which didn’t suggest a chief govt, instructed it might choose a special one if its decision wins subsequent week. It fuelled hypothesis over whether or not outgoing chief Francesco Starace might keep longer.

Starace, who has served as Enel chief since 2014, reiterated on Thursday he was not obtainable to serve one other time period.

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