Prudential causes a stir with surprise AIA appointment

PRUDENTIAL surprised analysts by appointing its UK chief executive to lead the integration of AIA in Asia yesterday, raising questions over the future of its UK operations.

Rob Devey, who joined Pru last year, will oversee the assimilation of AIG’s Far Eastern unit after the British insurer’s $35.5bn (£23bn) takeover goes through in the autumn. Devey made his name fusing the retail banking arms of Halifax and Bank of Scotland after they merged in 2001 and is seen as the most experienced insider for the task.

The amount of time he is expected to spend flitting between Hong Kong and London – around two years – raised some eyebrows in the City.

Oriel Securities said: “This move highlights the increased importance of Asia to the group compared to the UK and may increase speculation that, ultimately, the UK is non-core and may be disposed or de-merged.”

Using an “outsider” without Asian ties could ease tensions over the AIA?deal after several senior executives resigned last month, one source said. Barry Stowe, who will continue as head of Prudential in Asia, had been seen as a clear contender for the role, said Panmure Gordon’s Barry Cornes.