The businesss on...Mark Tucker, Chief Executive, AIA


So he's back! Think Prudential boss Tidjane Thiam is worried?


If he's not worried, he's in for some trouble. AIA – the business Mr Thiam tried and failed to buy – yesterday made its debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with Mr Tucker as its chairman and chief executive. Hong Kong's biggest float, it couldn't have gone much better with the shares rising sharply in value. Mr Tucker, in other words, has started with a bang.

So Tucker's back home?

Oh yes. He might have run the Prudential for four years in London, but Asia was where he made his name, turning Pru's Asian business into the group's fastest-growing and best business.

Think he'd like it back?

Oh yes. Mr Tucker is ferociously ambitious. He said he stepped down from Pru for "entirely personal reasons" but said that he had "one more big job in me". However, his name was absent from the "big jobs" that were going. So there was hardly any threat of him failing to make the World Cup (he's attended every one going back years). Now he's got that job, there's little doubt that he'd like Pru Asia back. He built it, after all.

Has he got a chance?

He certainly has. The bungled attempt to buy AIA by Pru, prior to the appointment of Mr Tucker to lead its flotation for the US government, has left the UK life insurer with a major public and investor relations problem. Pru and Mr Thiam – who tried to take a part-time job at a French bank in the middle of the deal – annoyed just about everyone. If Mr Tucker came up with a good offer, Mr Thiam's investors might well force his hand.

But they seemed so pally when they both worked at Pru

Yes, Mr Tucker and Mr Thiam gave every impression of getting on like a house on fire when the latter was the former's finance chief. But that might just have been PR (something Mr Tucker appears to understand rather better than Mr Thiam). This is about business and AIA plus Prudential Asia would still make a formidable combination. Watch this space.

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