American International Group Inc., the insurer bailed out by the U.S. government, named Mark Tucker as chief executive officer of AIA Group Ltd. as it pushes ahead with plans for a Hong Kong initial public offering of its Asian life unit.
Tucker, a former Asia and group chief executive of Prudential Plc, was also named executive chairman, AIG said in an e-mailed statement. Mark Wilson, AIA’s current CEO, will stay until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition before leaving to “pursue other opportunities,” it added.
AIA was the subject of a $35.5 billion takeover bid from Prudential, Tucker’s former employer, this year. AIG’s board rejected a revised lower offer from Prudential after the U.K. insurer struggled to win over its investors at the previously agreed price. Harvey Golub, AIA’s former chairman, stepped down last week after falling out with Robert Benmosche, AIG’s chief executive officer, for blocking the sale to Prudential.
“After reviewing various options to monetize AIA’s substantial value, we have concluded that an IPO is our best option,” Benmosche said in today’s statement. “Mark Tucker has the public company experience, track record, relationships, judgment, and leadership qualities that will help us accomplish our ambitious goals of not just taking a company of AIA’s size and scope public, but building on this great platform for the long term to create Asia’s pre-eminent, publicly traded insurance company.”
Tucker, 52, stepped down as group CEO of Prudential in September last year after four years at the helm of the U.K.’s biggest insurer. During his tenure, Tucker pulled out of a separate bid to buy AIA, continued to grow sales in the company’s Asian unit and raised the share price 35 percent.
Before taking up the top job in May 2005, Tucker spent two years as finance director at HBOS Plc, formerly the U.K.’s biggest mortgage lender. Previously, he spent 18 years at Prudential, a decade of which was as head of its Asian division. When he announced his departure from the insurer in March 2009, the Briton said he had “one more big job in me.”
Benmosche, 66, needs to divest the Asia business to help repay $182.3 billion of government rescue money. Earlier this year, he and Wilson disagreed over the proposed sale of AIA to Prudential, with Wilson preferring an IPO, a person familiar with the matter said.
AIG had planned an IPO of AIA earlier this year until Benmosche struck a deal in March to sell the unit to Prudential. Wilson, who has led AIA since May 2009, told friends he’d step down if the Prudential transaction was completed because of doubts the integration would be successful, the Financial Times reported May 25, citing an unidentified person.
The deal collapsed after Prudential investors balked at the price and AIG directors including Golub rejected a reduced bid that Benmosche had endorsed, a person familiar with the matter said at the time. Benmosche threatened to quit at a June 25 board meeting unless Golub left the company, the person said. The CEO also demanded more control over AIA and urged the board to dismiss Wilson, the person said.