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Exclusive: Scicluna a leading contender in RSA's hunt for chairman

One of Britain's top accountants has emerged as a leading contender to take over as chairman of RSA, the FTSE 100 insurer which owns the More Than brand.

Martin Scicluna, pictured, who spent more than 30 years at Deloitte, rising to UK chairman, is believed to be heading a short list of candidates to replace long-serving John Napier at the helm of the £4bn firm.

RSA insists that no departure date has been set for Mr Napier, 70, although sources say an appointment could come before the end of the year with an exit at the company's annual meeting next May.

The search for his replacement is being led by MWM Consulting, the firm run by head-hunting doyenne Anna Mann.

Mr Scicluna, 61, has expanded his financial services expertise since leaving Deloitte by serving on the board of bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group, owner of Scottish Widows, since 2008. He is also the chairman of London property firm Great Portland Estates.

Finding candidates to fill the chairman's role at large financial services companies has become a headache because of fresh regulatory scrutiny of risk and capital controls. Many banking bosses have been tainted by the financial crisis.

Prudential opted for Paul Manduca as chairman even though, as a non-executive director, he led the search. John McFarlane faced a baptism of fire when he succeeded Lord Sharman at the helm of Aviva, stepping into an executive role after Andrew Moss was ousted by angry investors.

In comparison, RSA has been a quiet success story. Under chief executive Simon Lee, the insurer is pushing hard into overseas markets such as Canada and Scandinavia and at home pulling back from low-margin motor insurance in favour of more household and pet cover.

If he lands the post, Mr Scicluna will become the latest beancounter to take a blue-chip chair after his former Deloitte colleague John Connolly was tapped to take the reins at Olympics flop G4S and Amec, the oil engineer.

Meanwhile, former KPMG man John Griffith-Jones is to take the role of chairman of the new City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority.