Thiam to say sorry at AGM

PRUDENTIAL chief executive Tidjane Thiam will apologise to shareholders today for wasting more than £450m in the course of the insurer’s disastrous AIA bid.

He and other senior Prudential figures will come face-to-face with shareholders for the first time since the embarrassing collapse of the $35.5bn (£25bn) bid.

In what promises to be a fractious encounter Thiam and chairman Harvey McGrath will tell investors they are unrepentant for trying to capture a rare opportunity by buying AIG’s Far Eastern arm but regret the mammoth costs the failed bid clocked up.

McGrath, who will deliver an opening speech to the annual general meeting at the QEII Conference Centre next to Wesminster Abbey, is expected to reiterate his belief the deal fell apart due to market turbulence in Asia.

Although sources close to Prudential say the strategic review demanded by some shareholders will not be announced, Thiam will try to save his career by promising to get the blue chip back on a steady course. The embattled executive will talk up Prudential’s growth prospects in Asia without AIA, promising to allocate capital and resources to the regions that offer good returns.

Both men, as well as finance director Nic Nicandrou, will face the anger of smaller investors. Pressure on Thiam grew over the weekend, as Richard Buxton, head of equities at the asset manager Schroders warned he is in the firing line for his role in the “disastrous” failed bid.

The firm will also release what is expected to be a positive trading update for the first five months of 2010.