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Generali says FY goals on track after solid first half

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: The Generali logo is seen on the company's Tower, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadidat, at the Milan's CityLife district

By Gianluca Semeraro

MILAN (Reuters) - Generali on Tuesday said it was on track to meet full-year targets after Italy's top insurer reported a good performance across all business sectors to slightly beat first-half expectations.

Operating profit rose 10.4% to 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) versus the 2.95 billion expected by analysts in a poll provided by the insurer.

Its solvency ratio, a key measure of financial strength for insurers, rose to 231% from 224% but was short of the 235% expects by analysts.

It was still at 231% at the end of July, head of finance Cristiano Borean said.

Generali said in a statement it would successfully complete its current strategic plan at the end of 2021 and CEO Philippe Donnet would unveil a new plan on Dec. 15.

The Trieste-based insurer, one of Italy's most prized financial assets, is due to appoint a new board next spring and speculation has mounted over Donnet's future due to tensions among top shareholders.

Milanese merchant bank Mediobanca is the biggest investor in Generali, followed by businessmen Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone and Leonardo Del Vecchio.

Over the past two years, first Del Vecchio and then Caltagirone have also emerged as leading shareholders of Mediobanca.

In a first public sign of discontent over the balance of power among shareholders, Caltagirone in April snubbed the insurer's annual general meeting.

Asked on a media call about reported criticism from Caltagirone and Del Vecchio, Donnet said he would not comment on rumours or speak about boardroom discussions.

"I am focused on doing my job in the interest of all shareholders and preparing the new strategic plan."

In a sign of support for Donnet's performance, Generali said its board was pleased with the results achieved "in a particularly challenging environment".

The insurer said its board would start preparatory work to compile a list of candidates and would discuss the matter on Sept. 27.

($1 = 0.8420 euros)

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; editing by Valentina Za and Jason Neely)

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