Zurich appoints new chair after death of exec

ZURICH Insurance yesterday appointed Tom de Swaan to be its chairman, as the company starts rebuilding its board following the death of chief financial officer Pierre Wauthier.

Wauthier committed suicide last month, leaving behind a note in which he allegedly blamed Zurich’s ex-chairman Josef Ackermann for putting him under excessive pressure at work.

Ackerman resigned soon after learning of the note and created the vacancy that de Swaan will now fill.

The appointment sees the company stick with a safe pair of hands: de Swaan has been on Zurich’s board since 2006 and became vice-chairman last year. He has been acting chairman since Ackermann’s resignation and has already commissioned an investigation into the executive culture at the company.

The company yesterday issued a short statement confirming that the appointment was with immediate effect. It also said that Fred Kindle would step up to become vice-chairman of the Swiss business.

Last night Reuters claimed that Ackermann is likely to step down from his position as a deputy chairman of German conglomerate Siemens in the wake of recent events.