Prudential boss Tidjane Thiam is set to leave the FTSE 100 giant later this year to head Swiss banking titan Credit Suisse, it emerged last night.
The surprise exit, which would bring the curtain down on a six-year tenure at the helm of the Pru, is expected to be announced as soon as this morning, according to sources.
A native of the Ivory Coast, Thiam is widely considered to be one of the most able chief executives in the business world. Yet this will be his first role in the highly competitive world of investment banking.
Prudential board member and boss of US subsidiary Jackson National Life Michael Wells is expected to be nominated as Thiam’s replacement at the £43bn giant, Sky News reported last night.
Thiam’s appointment at Credit Suisse will make him the first ever black chief executive of a leading European bank.
His soon-to-be predecessor at Credit Suisse, Brady Dougan, has come under increasing pressure from shareholders as the Swiss giant struggles to compete with global rivals.
The company’s share price has fallen by nearly a fifth in the last year.
Thiam’s departure after six years in the top job will end a well-regarded stewardship of the Pru following a difficult start.
The collapse of a £24bn deal to buy Asian insurer AIA in 2010 cost the group £450m and led to a rocky relationship between shareholders and the board.
Shares have since recovered, having risen from 600p at the time to close at 1,663.50p las night – a 177 per cent increase over the period.
Thiam previously worked in a government-related role in his homeland following a career as a consultant at McKinsey, but left following the country’s military coup in 1999. He joined Aviva in London before moving to Prudential.
Thiam, who currently lives in London and supports Arsenal, also holds a board seat at Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox group.
It was not immediately clear last night if he would retain the role.
Prudential will report its full year results to the stock market this morning when Thiam’s departure is expected to be confirmed.
The group declined to comment last night.