Head of Equitas chosen

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The Independent Online

Financial Editor

Lloyd's of London has chosen an American, Michael Crall, to be the chief executive of Equitas, the giant re-insurance company which is to take over liability for all the insurance market's old policies.

Mr Crall, for the past nine years president of the Argonaut Insurance Company based in California, was selected mainly for his experience of the US market, which has been responsible for the great majority of the old pollution and asbestosis liabilities that have brought such ruinous losses to names.

Lloyd's is facing a wave of investigations in the US by state regulators into allegations that the insurance market fraudulently misled investors by recruiting them when the massive risk potential of asbestosis and pollution losses was already known to insiders.

The success of Equitas, which will take over all pre-1993 policies, allowing a "new Lloyd's" to trade forward unencumbered into the future, is essential to the insurance market's ambitious global restructuring and recovery plan.

Mr Crall, 51, was selected from a shortlist of 26, Lloyd's said yesterday.

Jane Barker, formerly chief financial officer at the London Stock Exchange, is to take over as finance director of Equitas. Both appointments are to begin on 1 December, with Equitas seeking conditional approval from the Department of Trade and Industry by the end of the year.