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Ligresti family gives up control of Fondiaria

By Giulia Cambieri

The Ligresti family has ended its control of Italy’s second-largest insurance group Fondiaria SAI, in a bid to restructure the insurer’s assets.

According to a statement released on 29 January, the family agreed on a deal that will see rival Unipol increase the capital of Premafin by €400 million.

Premafin is the holding company through which the Ligrestis control Fondiaria SAI, as it owns 38.5% of the insurance group.

As a results, Unipol will hold more than two-thirds of Premafin’s voting rights, while the Ligrestis will see their share diluted to under 10%.

The company’s management will resign, Premafin also said. However, according to Italian newspaper La Stampa, Paolo Ligresti, the son of Premafin’s founder Salvatore, could sit on the board as a minority shareholder.

The deal should help safeguard Fondiaria SAI’s its future solvency, following two tough commercial years. In September, the Turin-based group said it expected a net loss of €925 million for 2011. In 2010, the company had losses of €928 million.

The transaction, which has yet to be approved by Italy’s market regulator Consob and by the country’s anti-trust authority, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.