Prudential’s next chief executive will be based in Asia for the first time after Mike Wells said he was stepping down the following seven years at the top of the UK’s biggest listed insurance company.
The decision to base the top job in Asia cements the 174-year-old group’s shift to the region and follows a radical shake-up overseen by Wells. He will retire from Prudential at the end of March.
Mark FitzPatrick, finance director, will become interim chief executive until a permanent appointment is made.
In 2019, Wells demerged the UK operation, M&G, and last year spun off Jackson, the US business, under pressure from activist investors. What remains is an insurance company focused on faster-growing markets in Asia and Africa.
Shriti Vadera, Prudential chair, said Wells had “led the group through one of the most significant periods of change in its 174-year history”.
Given Prudential’s focus on the growth markets of Asia and Africa, the Board has decided with this managed transition of the leadership structure, that the roles of the CEO group and the CFO group will be based in Asia, where Prudential’s largest businesses, the group regulator and the rest of the senior management team are located, ”she added.
The group’s decision to base the chief executive and finance director in Asia will sever most of its remaining links with the UK, where it was founded.
M&G, once the UK arm of the business, still has a life insurance operation that trades under the Prudential brand in the UK.
FitzPatrick, who has been finance chief since 2017, has asked not to be considered for the permanent chief executive position and will leave the group once Wells’ successor is in place.
Prudential said it would consider both internal and external appointments for the role. Nic Nicandrou, a former Prudential finance director who leads the Asia business and is already based in Hong Kong, will be one of the leading candidates.