Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Prudential Names Mike Wells to Succeed Thiam as Group CEO

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Prudential Plc named Mike Wells as chief executive officer of Britain’s largest insurer, replacing Tidjane Thiam, who is set to take over at Credit Suisse Group AG next month.

Wells, who has run the insurer’s Jackson National Life U.S. unit since 2010, will succeed Thiam on June 1, London-based Prudential said in a statement Friday. Canadian-born Wells could be paid as much as 7.5 million pounds ($11.4 million) in salary, bonus and long-term share and cash awards.

“The board is very sorry to lose Tidjane, but understands his desire to step down,” Chairman Paul Manduca said in the statement. “Following a rigorous succession-planning process, we have found a fitting and experienced successor. Under his leadership, Jackson’s profit has doubled.”

Wells, 55, is moving to London to take over from Thiam, 52, who ran the British insurer since 2009 where he tripled the stock price by betting on Asia to drive up profit. He was named CEO of Switzerland’s second-largest lender in March, replacing American Brady Dougan.

In contrast to Ivory Coast-born Thiam, Wells has spent most of his 29 year insurance career in the U.S. He joined Jackson Life in 1995 in the marketing and distribution arm and helped develop the firm’s first variable annuities. The insurer has since become the largest seller of the product in the U.S., surpassing others including MetLife Inc.

Wells has worked with Thiam for seven years and has been on Prudential’s board since 2011. An American citizen, he has a bachelor’s of science degree from San Diego State University. Married with two sons, he owns a cattle ranch in Tennessee and collects Gibson guitars.

A search is under way to select his successor in the U.S., a company spokesman said.

Prudential was little changed at 1,617 pence in London at 1:30 p.m. The shares are up 10 percent this year.

Prudential Plc has no relation to Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential Financial Inc.

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