Jean Pierre Mustier is to step down as chief executive of UniCredit next April, the bank said in a statement on Monday evening.
Mr Mustier’s unexpected decision not to seek another mandate at the helm of the Italian lender came after a heated board meeting on Monday afternoon, said several people involved.
“Over the last few months, it has become apparent that the Team 23 strategy [his business plan for the bank] and its core pillars no longer corresponds to the board’s current thinking,” Mr Mustier said in the statement.
“Hence, I have decided to retire from the group at the end of my mandate in April 2021, to allow the new board to elaborate a future strategy.”
UniCredit’s shares dropped over 5 per cent on Tuesday morning following the news.
Several people involved in the discussions said tensions rose within UniCredit’s board following a last-minute informal meeting on Sunday night in which governance issues were discussed.
Board members told Mr Mustier they wanted to look at other candidates for the top job, said three people involved in the discussions. Former UBI Banca chief executive Victor Massiah, Nexi CFO Bernardo Mingrone and Matteo Del Fante, the chief executive of Poste Italiane, are among the top external candidates, the people said.
Relations between Mr Mustier and members of the board soured over the past few months, the people said. His plan to spin off the Italian assets and a listing of the foreign ones in Germany, as well as his refusal to buy Monte dei Paschi di Siena at the Italian government’s request, were the main reasons for the fallout, they said.
People close to Mr Mustier previously insisted he has always been open to considering the acquisition of Monte dei Paschi if the operation were to be “cost neutral for UniCredit”.
In February, Mr Mustier pulled out of the running for the top job at HSBC. He had been identified as the preferred external candidate by the bank’s board of directors.