Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri chairman found dead at home

FILE PHOTO: Italian General Claudio Graziano attends video conference of European defence ministers in Brussels

ROME (Reuters) - Claudio Graziano, the chairman of Italian state-controlled shipbuilder Fincantieri and a former army general, has died, the company said in a statement on Monday.

"Fincantieri expresses its immense sorrow for the sudden death of General Claudio Graziano," the group said in a statement, without providing any detail on the circumstances.

Graziano was 70 years old. He was named Fincantieri chairman in 2022. Sources with knowledge of the matter said he was found dead at home in Rome.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni paid tribute to him as "an upright servant of the state, who throughout his life honoured the nation, the armed forces and the institutions with dedication, competence and professionalism".

The Italian news agency ANSA and other media reported there was evidence to suggest Graziano might have killed himself, a possibility also raised by Lucio Malan, a senator from Meloni's Brothers of Italy party.

"Nothing suggested that he might take his own life," Malan said in a statement.

Fincantieri CEO Pierroberto Folgiero called him "a great commander" as well as "a great manager and a great friend", and noted that Graziano last year lost his wife to illness.

Graziano was the Italian defence forces' chief of staff from 2015 to 2018 and chairman of the European Union Military Committee from 2018 to 2022.

"He was a friend and an extraordinary officer who honoured Italy in his European roles as well," Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani posted on X.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer, Gianluca Semeraro and Romolo Tosiani, writing by Gavin Jones and Elvira Pollina; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Alvise Armellini)