Bernheim, 85, bitter on leaving Italy's Generali

24th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

French financier Antoine Bernheim, stepping down from the helm of Generali on Saturday, charged he was forced out of the Italian insurance giant by foes who used his advanced age as a pretext.

"It appears that today, at age 85, I am an old man in his dotage," Bernheim said in an emotional speech to shareholders.

"It is sad to leave a company after 40 years," he said in the emotional speech lasting more than an hour, indicating however that he was prepared to accept a position as honorary chairman.

Bernheim is to hand over the reins of Europe's third largest insurer to Cesare Geronzi, head of Italy's leading investment bank Mediobanca.

The Parisian joined the board of Generali in 1973, chairing it from 1995 to 1999 and since 2002.

Shareholders must approve the nomination of 75-year-old Geronzi by Mediobanca -- the largest shareholder of Generali with a stake of 13.2 percent -- before the board can make him chairman.

© 2010 AFP

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