Battle Between Hedge Fund, Insurer Heats Up

Nov 1 2007 | 1:06pm ET

British hedge fund Algebris Investments is pushing ahead with its attack on Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali, even as Generali announced an impressive profit surge.

Algebris, headed by Eric Halet and Davide Serra, said this week it wants to meet quickly with Generali’s top shareholders. Serra says he wants to meet with the likes of the Bank of Italy, which holds a 4.5% stake in Generali, in the next two to three weeks.

But Generali responded to Algebris’ letter of last week, accusing Europe’s third-largest insurer of lapses in corporate governance and poor performance, by announcing yesterday that profits soared by 21.8% in the first nine months of this year.

“These figures confirm the four-year trend of continuously improving results and are a testament to a management strategy that has enabled the Generali group to achieve excellent revenue and earnings growth,” Generali Chairman Antoine Bernheim said. The 83-year-old has also come under fire from Algebris, which has complained about his “unacceptable” compensation package. But Bernheim made clear he’s not going anywhere.

“We are in the process of doing several things and I want to bring them to a conclusion,” he said of his three-year mandate.

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