Luigi Zunino, the majority shareholder, chairman and chief executive of Italian listed property company Risanamento, is to relinquish his position as chief executive as the company works to reduce its debt. He will remain as chairman.

Last Friday, the Risanamento board agreed to appoint a new chief executive to aid the company’s plans to sell a €1bn (£782m) property portfolio within 18 months to reduce its debt. An appointment is expected to be announced before Risanamento’s annual general meeting at the end of the month.

A Risanamento spokesman said: ‘We are not hiring a person, we are giving a mandate. This is typical in these situations where there are problems in selling assets. The person can be someone to help us fund buyers.’

It is unclear, at this stage, who will be shortlisted, but Tommaso Pompei, former chief executive officer of telecommunications company Wind, has been linked with the job.

Risanamento confirmed it would talk to candidates outside the property market: ‘We are not focusing on real estate people. We will look at other people too,’ the spokesman said.

The news coincides with an 8.9% rise in the value of Risanamento’s shares to €2.03 on Tuesday. This comes just 11 days after it fell by 23% to a 52-week low of €1.40, when it emerged that the company had €200m (£158m) of loans that need refinancing in 2008 and an additional €70m-€100m (£55m-£79m) revolving credit facility that could be called in at anytime.

Corporate governance has been in the news recently after Marks & Spencer chief executive Sir Stuart Rose was appointed as the retailer’s executive chairman, prompting opposition from shareholders.