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AIA Chief Threatens to Quit over Prudential Deal

AIA’s chief executive has told friends and industry executives that he would quit if the UK’s Prudential succeeded in its $35.5bn (£24.6bn) takeover of the Asian businesses of AIG .

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Mark Wilson has said he would step down once the deal closed because the proposed combination of the two Asian businesses was “unworkable”.

Hong Kong-based Mr Wilson, 43, pictured below, joined AIA from Axa in 2006 and boasts more than a decade of senior management experience in the Asian insurance industry.

One person said: “Mark remains loyal to AIA, but doesn’t plan to stay with the merged group because he feels it is a disaster waiting to happen.

“Many colleagues feel the same way.”

How many senior AIA executives, actuaries and agents remain following a takeover is crucial for the combined group if it is to execute the integration and deliver the sales increase being flagged to investors to justify the price.

The news of Mr Wilson’s threatened departure comes as the Pru battles to win shareholder support for the takeover and the $21bn rights issue to fund it ahead of a vote on June 7.Investors have expressed concerns about the price tag for AIA and the Pru’s ability to manage a complex integration in 12 Asian markets.The uncertainty over Mr Wilson’s future will also cast a shadow over Tuesday’s dual listing of the UK life assurer in Hong Kong and a secondary listing in Singapore.The Pru said on Monday that about 2 per cent of its shares had been registered in Hong Kong ahead of the listing.The Pru prospectus for its rights issue released last week said Mr Wilson would remain chief executive of AIA after the takeover. However, it would be relatively unconcerned if he did leave, according to one person familiar with the Pru.The company told investors that it had moved quickly to stabilise AIA by putting retention packages in place for senior individuals.Tidjane Thiam, Pru chief executive, said at an analyst presentation: “Getting the people aspect right is vital and we have moved quickly to stabilise the AIA business and put in place appropriate retention arrangements,”It was unclear whether Mr Wilson was offered these retention arrangements. But the AIA chief has deep misgivings about the Pru’s ability to execute the transaction or manage relations with AIA staff and agents, people familiar with the situation said.Steve Roder and Peter Cashin, AIA’s finance and legal chiefs respectively, have already quit the company.Mr Wilson is widely credited with saving AIA last year when AIG, its US parent company, nearly collapsed, earning the loyalty of senior staff and agents. He also prepared AIA for an initial public offering which was aborted three months ago in favour of the Pru deal.Mr Wilson, who has declined public comment since the Pru deal was announced, could not be reached for a response. The Pru would not comment.Latest Asian Business Headlines