France's Axa insurance chief to step down as reportedly tipped for HSBC
France's biggest insurance group AXA announced Monday that its chief executive and chairman Henri de Castries would step down and also leave the board in September.
A British newspaper has said de Castries, who joined the board of British banking giant HSBC on March 1, is tipped to take over at the helm of the bank.
The Sunday Times, citing an unnamed source, said at the weekend that the AXA boss was favourite to succeed current HSBC chairman Douglas Flint.
"After 27 years in the group, and close to 17 years as chief executive officer, Henri de Castries, chairman and CEO of AXA, has announced his decision to retire and to step down from the board of directors on September 1st, 2016," AXA said in a statement.
AXA, second in Europe only to German giant Allianz, said its board had unanimously decided at a meeting Saturday to separate the chairman and chief executive functions.
Replacing de Castries will be Denis Duverne as non-executive chairman of the board of directors and Thomas Buberl as chief executive officer of AXA and a member of is board.
In a letter to colleagues, de Castries said he believed his "deeply and carefully" decision to step down came at "the best moment" to hand over the leadership as the group had "never been in such a great shape".
"The best moment because it is only natural that a new team launches and manages our new strategic plan to be announced in June 2016" and expected to set out plans for the group's digital transformation, he added.
Last month AXA said net profit surged 12 percent last year to 5.61 billion euros ($6.16 billion).
© 2016 AFP