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July 13, 2012 2:27 am
At a contentious meeting on Thursday peppered with shouting matches and threats of legal action, representatives of the Gavio and Salini families, which each own just under 30 per cent of Impregilo, traded insults as they bid to woo minority investors to vote with them.
Salini SpA, the family construction company, owns 29.95 per cent of Impregilo and called Thursday’s meeting with the goal to changing the board and eventually merging Salini and Impregilo.
Before such a vote could take place, the Gavio family, which owns 29.96 per cent of Impregilo through holding company Igli, made use of an Italian law that allows investors owning at least one-third of the shares at a shareholders’ meeting to postpone that meeting for up to five days if they say they have not been properly informed about what is being voted upon.
Pietro Salini, the chief executive of Salini, won a partial victory on Thursday as the shareholders’ meeting voted down a motion by Igli to postpone the meeting until September 3.
The two families have been battling since October when Salini first bought its stake in Impregilo, which has construction contracts around the world including to build part of the expansion of the Panama Canal and the 60km Gotthard Base railway tunnel in Switzerland. The Gavio family have been Impregilo shareholders since 2005.
With the Gavios and the Salinis holding almost the same stake – both have remained below the threshold of 30 per cent after which a bid for all outstanding shares becomes obligatory – attention has shifted to minority shareholders who hold the deciding vote.
Amber Capital, a New York-based hedge fund, is the third-largest Impregilo shareholder, with a stake of 7.3 per cent. Until depositing its shares for Thursday’s meeting, Amber Capital had previously declared having a 5.1 per cent stake in Impregilo.
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