Shares in Unicredit fell nearly eight per cent on the open following the announcement that its chief executive would step down after a disagreement over strategy.
On Monday the Italian bank announced its chief executive Jean Pierre Mustier would step down at the end of his mandate in April.
In a statement Mustier said it had “become apparent that the Team 23 strategy and its core pillars no longer corresponds to the board’s current thinking.”
Mustier had overseen a difficult few years for the bank bit succeeded in making the bank leaner and more profitable. Last month Unicredit beat profit expectations reporting a 31 per cent rise in third-quarter earnings.
Prior to the announcement on Monday there had been reports that there was a growing rift between Mustier and the board over strategy.
Pressure had mounted on him to focus on mergers and acquisitions after rival Intesa Sanpaolo agreed a deal to take over UBI Banca, overtaking Unicredit as the country’s largest bank.
Tensions between Mustier and the board were reportedly focused on a potential bid for bailed-out bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena and a plan to split Unicredit’s domestic and foreign assets, according to Reuters reports.
Shares in the Tuscan bank surged nearly four per cent today on speculation Mustier’s departure could lead to a tie-up.
Mustier took over as chief executive in July 2016, having previously been deputy general manager in charge of the Corporate and Investment Banking Division.
Shares closed down five per cent on Monday and as of 9am GMT are down a further 5.72 per cent.
In February Mustier pulled out of the running for the top job at HSBC, reportedly being the preferred external candidate by the board.