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Generali's No.3 investor Caltagirone withholds backing for 2022 accounts -sources

Candidate for CEO at Generali Luciano Cirina and candidate for chairman Claudio Costamagna hold news conference in Milan

MILAN (Reuters) -Italian tycoon Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone, the third-largest investor in Generali, on Friday withheld his approval for the insurer's 2022 accounts, two sources said, after attempting to bring about a management shake-up last year.

Caltagirone led a group of rebel Generali investors who a year ago challenged the board's decision to hand a new term to CEO Philippe Donnet. They proposed an alternative candidate for the job but lost out in the April 2022 shareholder vote.

At that time, Caltagirone, who secured three seats for his nominees on Generali's 13-strong board, said he would continue to seek reform, adding that foreign investors who had backed Donnet might not have fully grasped the need to revamp the insurer.

At Friday's annual general meeting, last year's accounts gained the support of around 90% of shareholders who voted, while 9.9% of voters abstained, Generali's Chairman Andrea Sironi said.

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Details on the votes of each shareholder will only become available with the publication of the AGM minutes.

Two sources with knowledge of the situation said that Caltagirone had abstained. One of the people said he had voted in favour of the insurer's proposal to pay a dividend of 1.16 euros per share on 2022 results.

Caltagirone has criticised Donnet's strategy as not ambitious enough.

Generali posted its best operating profit ever in 2022 and net profit rose 2.3% to 2.9 billion euros ($3.2 billion) despite a 154-million-euro hit from its Russian investments.

During the AGM, Donnet said those results put Generali "in an excellent position" to achieve all the targets of its plan to 2024.

In April last year, at the height of the shareholder clash, the 2021 accounts got around 85% of AGM votes.

Caltagirone, who holds around 6% of Generali, last year had the backing of late billionaire Leonardo Del Vecchio, whose Delfin holding company owns 9.8% of Generali.

Italy's Benetton family, with a 4.8% stake, also challenged Donnet who had the support of Generali's top shareholder Mediobanca, which holds 13% of the insurer.

($1 = 0.9102 euros)

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro and Stefano Bernabei, editing by Valentina Za, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Susan Fenton)