home  › Government policies

Profumo to be named new Leonardo CEO, Del Fante will run Poste

by Gianni Dragoni

Alessandro Profumo, is the new CEO of Leonardo (formerly called Finmeccanica) and Matteo Del Fante is heading to Poste Italiane. On Saturday, March 18, the government issued its formal list of candidates to lead the six biggest publicly traded state companies for the next three years.

Claudio Descalzi and Francesco Starace, appointed three years ago by then Prime Minster Matteo Renzi, were confirmed as CEOs of, respectively, ENI and ENEL, the energy companies that are the two largest on the stock market in terms of market capitalization.

Descalzi was confirmed despite an overhanging investigation by Milan magistrates for international corruption related to the acquisitions of oil wells in Nigeria.
Starace’s job was pretty much assured: his management had also taken up requests by Renzi to launch massive investments in broadband.

Emma Marcegaglia, ex-president of Confindustria, was confirmed as chairman of ENI, Patrizia Greco at ENEL, and Catia Bastioli at Terna. Luigi Ferraris, head of finance for Poste Italiane, will now replace Del Fante as head of Terna. Del Fante will move to Poste Italiane. Roberta Neri was confirmed as CEO of ENAV, with new chairman: Roberto Scaramella, ex-CEO of Meridiana and current CEO of aerospace logistics group Ala, taking the place of Ferdinando Falco Beccalli.

Maria Bianca Farina, CEO of Poste Vita and chairman of ANIA (the association of Italian insurance companies) will be the new chairman of Poste, replacing former Forza Italia Euro-parliamentarian Luisa Todini.

A former CEO of UniCredit and ex-chairman of MPS bank, Profumo was formally named to head the industrial, aerospace and defense company Leonardo. Gianni De Gennaro was confirmed as Leonardo chairman.

Nominations from the Economy Ministry and its state banking arm Cassa depositi e prestiti (CDP) for Terna include the names of 37 candidates for boards of directors whose terms are expiring. Boards will be formerly renewed at shareholders’ meetings over the next few weeks. The first will be at ENI on April 13, the last at Leonardo on May 16. The boards of directors and supervisory boards will be filled out by candidates nominated by funds in the role of minority shareholders.

Nominations were approved by Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni along with Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, in consultation with the Quirinale, or office of the Italian President. Matteo Renzi also made himself heard. He obtained the reconfirmation of some managers he had nominated three years ago and insisted that Francesco Caio be removed as head of the Postal System.

Caio, while controversial within the agency for his management style, had obtained results that were judged to be very positive, as the Economy Ministry acknowledged yesterday (including a public listing of Poste). But Renzi vetoed him, mainly because he had refused to use money belonging to Poste to help rescue MPS. So Caio lost his job for defending the companys’s assets in the interest of shareholders, including minority shareholders. The new CEO of Poste, Del Fante, 50, is from Florence like Renzi.

Renzi also insisted that an outsider of international reputation come in to take over Leonardo to replace Moretti (previously at the National Railway), whom the former premier had appointed in 2014. A first-degree conviction for a rail disaster in Viareggio ruled out Moretti’s confirmation.

Padoan himself nominated Profumo. The banker who led UniCredit’s European expansion was relieved of his job—with a €38 million golden parachute—due to a disagreement with funds that accused him of having allowed Libyan shareholders into the bank without consulting them. Profumo who is close to Romano Prodi, was named chairman of MPS from 2012 to 2015 but didn’t manage to revive it. Choosing him to run Leonardo was a surprise because his experience as a banker seems unrelated to a company that manufactures helicopters, airplanes and weapons systems. Military circles had supported a high-profile company insider, Fabrizio Giulianini for the job.

Profumo called it “a major challenge and an honor to run one of the greatest companies in the nation. I will get to work immediately. I know that excellent work is being done: we will continue along this path, accelerating international development.”

Profumo is counting on carrying over his experience in international relations and development and his reputation for honesty and an ability to manage complex situations.

As for the boards of directors, there are minimal changes. Renzi’s appointments were all renewed. Luca Bader, a political advisory for Gentiloni, is joining the Leonardo board.

M5S head Beppe Grillo criticized Renzi: “It’s as if the corruption scandal in Consip (the State central agency which tenders the purchase of goods and services for the public administration), with the criminal involvement of Renzi’s close circle of supporters doesn’t exist for Renzi. Now, without any official title, he is devoting himself to nominating and putting in place his supporters, many originally from Tuscany, at the companies that are the stronghold of the Italian state, like the Postal System. This is intolerable and dangerous.”