Thiam placates investors but pay row may be next

TIDJANE Thiam returned like Lazarus from beyond the reputational grave yesterday with the kind of convincingly superb results needed to regain investors’ faith.

Thiam, promoted from finance director to chief executive of the Pru in 2009, has felt the wrath of shareholders since his ill-fated $35.5bn (£22bn) bid for AIA.

Thiam launched the bid last March but infuriated investors later that month by accepting a directorship at Societe Generale in addition to his day job. He was forced to turn it down.

The AIA bid antagonised the Financial Services Authority, which queried the Pru’s $21bn rights issue – and investors, who questioned the price. By June AIA had walked away, leaving the Pru with a £377m bill and shareholders demanding Thiam’s head.

This does not seem to have fazed Thiam. Trained in civil engineering and at McKinsey, he served as minister of planning and development in his native Cote d’Ivoire before leaving the country after a 1999 coup. He joined Aviva as group strategy and development director in 2002 and the Pru in 2007.

These results and 20 per cent dividend hike should reassure investors that Thiam is the man for this job.

But as one row fades into the distance, another may be brewing, as the remuneration committee prepares Thiam’s potential £5.2m pay package.

Whether investors will be prepared to endorse him that far remains to be seen.