Friends Provident chief to step down after 10 years

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Keith Satchell, Friends Provident's long-serving chief executive, is to hand the reins to the insurer's finance director when he retires next year.

The group announced yesterday that Mr Satchell would step down after 10 years in the job, which has seen him spearhead the insurer's demutualisation and stock market flotation. He will be 55 when he retires.

Philip Moore, the finance director, will take over at some point in the first half of 2007, the company said. Analysts expressed surprise that Mr Moore had been anointed Mr Satchell's successor, given his lack of experience in running companies.

But Friends Provident said the three years spent working alongside Mr Satchell had equipped Mr Moore for the job. The exact handover date has yet to be fixed.

Sir Adrian Montague, the insurer's chairman, said the board had "reluctantly" accepted Mr Satchell's decision, which was flagged in 2001 when the group floated. He said the company had prepared for the succession "with great care".

Friends Provident, founded by the Quakers in 1832, is the smallest of the listed insurers but has grown rapidly under Mr Satchell's guidance. Its funds under management have grown from £30bn five years ago to more than £110bn. The insurer is closely associated with its current chief executive, who is well regarded within the industry.

Mr Satchell said he did not intend to seek another executive role. "2007 will be the right time personally for me to move on," he said, stopping short of outlining any future plans.