Mr Mustier’s unexpected decision not to seek another term as head of the Italian lender came after a heated board meeting on Monday afternoon, several people involved said.
“In recent months it has become evident that the Team 23 strategy [his business plan for the bank] and its fundamental pillars no longer correspond to the current thinking of the council, ”Mr. Mustier said in the statement.
“I therefore decided to withdraw from the group at the end of my mandate in April 2021, to allow the new board to develop a future strategy.
Several people involved in the talks said tensions rose within UniCredit’s board of directors following a last-minute informal meeting on Sunday evening where governance issues were discussed.
Board members told Mustier they wanted to seek other candidates for the high-level post, three people involved in the talks said. Former UBI Banca CEO Victor Massiah, Nexi CFO Bernardo Mingrone and Matteo Del Fante, CEO of Poste Italiane, are among the top external candidates, the sources said.
Relations between Mr. Mustier and board members have deteriorated in recent months, people said. Its planned Italian asset split and a list of foreign assets in Germany, as well as its refusal to buy Monte dei Paschi di Siena at the request of the Italian government, are the main reasons for the fallout, they said.
Relatives of Mr. Mustier have previously insisted that he has always been prepared to consider acquiring Monte dei Paschi if the transaction were to be “cost-neutral for UniCredit”.
In February, Mustier retired from the HSBC leadership race. He had been identified as the preferred external candidate by the bank’s board of directors.