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The Italian government this week moved to block Pirelli’s largest shareholder, Chinese state-owned SinoChem Corporation, from taking control of the country’s main tyre manufacturer.

The move came as tensions between China and the west were highlighted during US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing this week.

Pirelli was sold to a group of investors including China National Chemical (ChemChina) and Italian industrial holding company Camfin in 2015 for EUR7.1bn.

ChemChina later merged with state owned Sinochem, which also owned a 9% stake in Pirelli, lifting its overall stake in the Milan based company to 37%.

Despite being Pirelli’s largest shareholder, SinoChem has been blocked from nominating the company’s chief executive officer (CEO).

In a statement to investors this week, Pirelli said the Italian government had ruled that only Camfin, a company controlled by Pirelli’s executive vice chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera, was allowed to nominate candidates for the role of Pirelli CEO.

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By GlobalData

Pirelli also revealed Rome had ruled any changes to its corporate governance would need Italian government approval.

The decisions are seen as measures by Italy’s right wing administration to guarantee the autonomy of Pirelli and its management, following an announcement by SinoChem in March that it planned to renew and update its existing shareholder pact with Pirelli.

Camfin has since nominated Andrea Casaluci as Pirelli’s new CEO, promoting him from his role as general manager.