Insurance giant sees CEO depart
Prudential chief Thiam leaves to join rival Credit Suisse
His departure was leaked to Asian markets overnight and the life and pensions company confirmed it in a statement to the London Stock Exchange. It said that under its succession planning system a number of candidates were already in the frame.
Mr Thiam, 52, will be credited with expanding the business’s already sizeable operations in Asia and the markets will be keen to see a replacement in post quickly.
The announcement coincided with annual results showing a 14% rise in operating profit to £3.2 billion and expansion among Asia’s growing middle classes. The board is recommending a final dividend of 25.74p (2013: 23.84p) taking the total dividend for the year to 36.93p (2013: 33.57p).
Paul Manduca, chairman, said: “Tidjane has been one of the most exceptional leaders in Prudential’s long and illustrious history. From leading the group through the financial crisis at the end of the last decade, first as CFO and then as CEO, to shaping an Asia-focused strategy that has seen Prudential grow into an ever more successful UK-based financial services business, he has been a great servant to the company and all its stakeholders in his seven years on our Board.
“Although the board will be sorry to see him go, we understand his desire to take on a new challenge with another global leader in a different part of the financial services sector, headquartered in Switzerland, and we wish him every success in his new role.
“As would be expected of a FTSE 100 company, the Board is always focused on succession planning and a process has already examined a range of external and internal candidates. We are fortunate to have a very strong management team across the group and we have identified a successor and expect to be able to announce a new CEO once the regulatory approval process has been completed.”
Mr Thiam said: “It has been a privilege and a pleasure to lead one of the iconic companies in UK financial services. We have successfully navigated some challenging times, including the global financial crisis, and have emerged with four profitable and strongly cash-generative businesses.
“Prudential in Asia has more than doubled in size and profitability since 2009 and is a clear leader in insurance in the world’s most populous and dynamic region. In the US, Jackson National Life has become market leader in variable annuities while diversifying its product mix and remitting substantial cash to the Group.
“Our traditional UK life business has performed robustly, while M&G has grown into one of the largest and most successful asset managers in Europe.
“All of that has been achieved as a result of the dedication and teamwork of the Group leadership and our talented people around the world and it has been an honour to lead them. There are no words that could adequately express my gratitude to Prudential’s people.
“In the meantime, I will maintain my focus on ensuring Prudential remains in good shape and I look forward to presenting our 2015 Q1 results in May and attending my final AGM as CEO shortly thereafter.”
Mr Thiam began his career with McKinsey in Paris and New York before returning to his native Côte d’Ivoire, where he was the cabinet minister in charge of the country’s economic development.
Returning to France, he became a partner with McKinsey before joining Aviva in 2002. He came to Prudential as CFO in 2008, becoming CEO in 2009.
He is an independent non-executive director of 21st Century Fox, the US-based media and entertainment group. He also sits on the Council of the Overseas Development Institute, the Africa Progress Panel chaired by Kofi Annan, the UK-ASEAN Business Council and the Strategic Advisory Group on UK Trade and Investment.
He is a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group, was chairman of the Association of British Insurers from 2012 to 2014 and was appointed chairman of the G20 High Level Panel for Infrastructure Investment in 2011. He is a Chevalier of the French Légion d’Honneur.