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Article

Critical shareholding as a tool to hold Italian corporations accountable

Nobody wants their party to be ruined, and corporations are no exception to this. Annual Shareholders Meetings (AGMs) are for them an opportunity to showcase their financial and economic performances and portray their integrity and sustainability.

In recent years, however, Italian corporations have been hearing more than a dissonant note in their self-congratulatory symphony. A few NGOs and one ethical investor (Fondazione Finanza Etica) have begun to show up at the AGMs of major Italian companies – including Enel, Eni and Generali - and to raise thorny questions about their responsibilities in various business-related negative impacts, including on climate change and environmental destruction. That was the start of shareholder activism in Italy.

Generali is the third largest insurance group in Europe, and Italy’s major financial institution, holding assets worth over $600 billion. Research conducted by the Italian NGO Re:Common and the Unfriend Coal network revealed that Generali was also one of the main coal insurer in Europe.

In particular, Generali was insuring some of the most polluting coal plants, such as Bełchatów and Turów in Poland, and Ledvice in Czech Republic. The plants are owned by PGE and CEZ respectively, two of the largest coal utilities in Europe...gen