Enel’s shareholders waved through the Italian government’s picks for the new leadership at the company – one of the world’s biggest wind and solar operators – despite vocal opposition from some investors who wanted a different team at the top.

The outcome of the vote today (Wednesday) means prominent Italian executive Flavio Cattaneo, a former chief executive at networks group Terna, is set to succeed Francesco Starace as CEO of the utility, marking the end of nine years at the top for the latter who was seen as a key figure in the energy transition.

Paolo Scaroni – himself a former CEO of the utility and current chair of AC Milan football club – becomes Enel’s new chairman, despite attracting questions over his previous business dealings with Russia while he ran Italian oil & gas group Eni.

The slate on which both were elected – backed by the government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, which holds a 23.6% stake in Enel – was opposed by several of Enel’s minority shareholders, including Covalis Capital, which put forward an alternative list of candidates it claimed “better reflects the international DNA of the company” and criticised what it called the government’s “opaque process”.

The Norwegian oil fund, the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, had also in advance said it would oppose Scaroni as chairman.

Italian media reported previous scepticism by the new leadership team over the extent of Enel's embrace of the green revolution under Starace.

Under Starace, Enel ended 2022 with 59GW of renewable capacity in place – a total that unusually for such a massive green player includes no offshore wind, which the CEO told Recharge in an interview remained “a risky niche” compared to onshore wind and solar.

Enel will in the 2023-25 period focus its investments on six core countries that it says will offer the best prospects for returns and the most supportive policies – Italy, Spain, the US, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, the company told investors in November last year.