Thiam will take over from Brady Dougan at the end of June, to become the first black chief executive at the helm of a top European bank. Prudential said it will announce his successor once the regulatory approval process has been completed.
Commenting on Thiam’s move, Prudential chairman Paul Manduca said: “Although the board will be sorry to see him go, we understand his desire to take on a new challenge with another global leader and we wish him every success in his new role.”
Thiam, who’s reign at the Pru began in 2009, had only been in the job for a year when the life company lost £377m in fees and costs and its shares plummeted after a takeover bid for Asian insurer AIA collapsed in 2010.
During that time, he had faced considerable criticism from shareholders and there were questions as to whether he would keep his job.
However, he has since reshaped the Pru’s Asian operations leading to a doubling in size and a rebound in profitability. The latest full year results show a 16% rise in operating profit to just over £1bn across the region compared to 2013.
“In Asia, our business remains focused on meeting the protection and savings needs of the region’s growing middle classes through a high-quality agency force and strong bank partnerships,” Thiam said.
In the UK, the Prudential results showed significant impact from the proposed reforms of the pensions industry due to come into effect from 6 April 2015, which include the removal of the requirement to purchase a pension annuity.
Retail sales in the UK, which includes onshore and offshore bonds, individual pensions and income drawdown, together delivered Annual Premium Equivalent (APE) sales growth of 41%. However there was a 49% reduction in APE sales of individual annuities.
Prudential said APE sales from the other retail products, including individual pensions, income drawdown and offshore bonds, increased by 44% to £201m. Offshore bond APE sales were up 44%, reflecting the growing popularity of its with-profits fund.