Laurentian's chief executive steps down

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The Independent Online
LAURENTIAN, the Canadian-owned life insurance group that has talked of seeking a UK stock market listing, has unexpectedly parted company with Paul Seymour, its chief executive.

Laurentian said it had no plans to replace Mr Seymour. Lord Marsh, the former Labour MP and British Rail chairman who has headed the company since 1989, will take on additional responsibilities and become executive chairman. Senior management of Laurentian's four operating companies will report directly to Lord Marsh.

Mr Seymour, 48, said his departure was 'disappointing' but neither he nor Laurentian would explain the reasons behind it.

Mr Seymour said his leaving was unconnected with the problems discovered last year by Lautro, the life insurance regulator. This led to a study by consulting actuaries to check whether Laurentian investors had been sold unsuitable policies.

Alan Austin, Laurentian's personnel director, said it was 'a logical time' for Mr Seymour to leave.

He added: 'We don't want to analyse the decision publicly. It is a private matter between Mr Seymour and the company. But there are no skeletons in cupboards - it is an amicable parting.'

Lord Marsh, who will be 65 next month, was on his way to Canada and could not be contacted. A statement from him noted the 'major developments . . . in management structure and personnel' over the past two years and the pounds 10m introduction of a sophisticated laptop computer system for the sales force.

Mr Austin said Laurentian had no plans to seek a listing in the next year or so, though that remained an option if the right conditions arose. 'Realistically, our main aim is to develop the business, increase market share, partly through taking over other sales forces and partly through exploiting the new laptop,' he said.

Laurentian recently acquired the UK sales force of American Life (Alico). It is close to finalising a deal to acquire the sales force of Prosperity, the small life insurer owned by Municipal Mutual, the troubled council insurer.

Mr Austin said the company expected to hear from Lautro shortly about the suitability of the policies that were scrutinised by Tillinghast, the actuaries.

Mr Seymour joined Laurentian in December 1989, having previously been a senior director at Abbey Life. He has already found an office in Cheltenham from which to look for another job.

He said: 'I would quite like, having done 20 years in the industry, to try and use my skills in a slightly less direct way - switching into a connected but different channel such as banking or broking.'