AIA chief in quit threat if Prudential deal succeeds: report

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Asian insurer AIA's chief executive has said he will quit if British insurance giant Prudential succeeds in a 35.5-billion-US dollar takeover of the business, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

Mark Wilson has told friends and industry executives of his plans, saying the proposals to buy the Asian arm of troubled US insurer AIG would be a "disaster waiting to happen," according to the paper.

The news threatened to cast a shadow over the start of trading in Prudential shares in Hong Kong and Singapore early Tuesday, as the British insurer seeks to tap the region to help fund its massive acquisition.

"Mark remains loyal to AIA, but doesn't plan to stay with the merged group because he feels it is a disaster waiting to happen," one person told the FT.

"Many colleagues feel the same way."

One British-based investor told the paper that the departure of 43-year-old Wilson, who is based in Hong Kong, would be a blow. He is credited with saving AIA last year when American International Group (AIG) almost collapsed.

"Because of what happened, Mark has earned the trust and loyalty of senior staff and agents," said the investor.

Both Wilson and Prudential declined comment.

Tuesday's listings in Hong Kong and Singapore come as Prudential tries to woo Asian investors ahead of its planned 21-billion-US dollar rights issue to buy AIA in the insurance sector's biggest-ever takeover.

The listings are being done by way of introduction, which means adding trading venues without issuing new shares.

If the British insurer is successful in buying AIA, the deal would transform Prudential into the world's top non-Chinese insurer by market capitalisation, ahead of major competitors Allianz and AXA.

Prudential said it expects to complete the takeover in the third quarter of 2010 while reports suggest it may have to sell its British operations to fund the rest of the deal.

The AIA deal and the rights issue need 75-percent backing at a shareholders' meeting on June 7.

© 2010 AFP

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