Prudential investors push ex-chief to replace Thiam: reports

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Prudential's former chief executive, Mark Tucker, has been approached by major shareholders keen for him to replace under-pressure current chief executive Tidjane Thiam, reports said on Monday.

At least two of the British insurance giant's top 15 shareholders are touting Tucker ahead of an annual general meeting Monday following a failed takeover of US insurance giant AIG's Asian unit AIA, the Financial Times newspaper said.

Thiam and chairman Harry McGrath are likely to face severe criticism at the meeting after Prudential was left with a 450-million-pound (540-million-euro, 660-million-dollar) bill for the failed bid.

One leading investor told the FT: "Mark Tucker was the real architect of the Pru's growing success in Asia, UK and US.

"If he could be persuaded to return for a period, Thiam could go immediately."

Another Prudential shareholder told The Times newspaper: "Tucker really knows the business, particularly in Asia... But he'll hate what's happening and might be prepared to come back to restore some stability."

But the FT business daily reported that other investors were not in favour of Tucker returning to his old job because they fear he could break up the group.

Thiam, born in the Ivory Coast but with French nationality, took a huge gamble by making the bid for AIA just eight months into his job at the helm of Prudential.

Both he and McGrath have insisted no heads will roll following the collapse of the AIA deal.

© 2010 AFP

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