Pearl lines up Harvey for chairman's job

Pearl, the insurer, is believed to have set its sights on Richard Harvey, formerly chief executive at Aviva, as its new chairman.

Mr Harvey is thought to have been approached by headhunters appointed by Pearl earlier in the summer, with the former Aviva boss leading a shortlist of candidates for the chairmanship of the insurance firm.

"Richard Harvey is the heavyweight candidate with the right experience to help Pearl in this market," said a source. "He is the right candidate to help Pearl take on Clive Cowdery, as the life insurance sector consolidates. Rest assured, Cowdery won't get things his own way."

Mr Harvey, who surprised the City by quitting as chief executive of Aviva in 2007 when he was just 57, is thought to be interested in the Pearl role, but is weighing up a number of other opportunities. After leaving Norwich Union, Mr Harvey worked for an African charity.

Pearl is looking to be listed on the stock market by the end of the year, after being bailed out through a debt-restructuring agreement struck with its banks in June.

A consortium of 17 banks now owns 10 per cent of Pearl, following the agreed debt-for-equity swap, while Pearl founder, pizza entrepreneur Hugh Osmond, through his investment vehicle, Sun Capital, and the private equity firm TDR Capital, retain a 30 per cent stake.

Mr Osmond, who is thought to have been granted generous warrants by the banks to turn the company around, is expected to become non-executive vice-chairman of the new listed group.

Liberty Acquisition Holdings, an Amsterdam-listed company controlled by the American hedge fund billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, also ploughed £500m into Pearl, and now owns a majority 60 per cent stake in the company.

When Pearl lists, it is expected to duel with Mr Cowdery's Resolution group, which finally succeeded last week in its attempts to buy the insurer Friends Provident in a £1.9bn paper-and-cash deal.

Mr Cowdery bought Friends for 79.4p a share, a premium to the insurer's recent share price, but dramatically less than the 225p at which Friends floated in 2001.

Like Pearl, Resolution has sought to bolster its board with high-profile names, with the former Financial Services Authority chief executive, John Tiner, among its number.

"There is clearly no love lost between Cowdery and Osmond, so it will be interesting to watch them cross swords once again," said one City analyst.

The pair have a long history of enmity, fighting over Henderson's closed life insurance books in 2005, while Pearl bought Cowdery's Resolution at the end of 2007, a deal that netted Cowdery a personal windfall of £145m. Reports suggested that the deal personally cost Mr Osmond up to £200m as markets soured and the assets he purchased struggled.

If Pearl succeeds in securing the services of Mr Harvey, it will have pulled off a coup by snaring one of the life-insurance sector's most experienced individuals.

Mr Harvey began his long career at Aviva in 1992, becoming head of its New Zealand operations before returning to work for the company in the UK in 1993.

He was Norwich Union's finance director when the group demutualised and floated in 1997. He became the company's chief executive in 1998.

Mr Harvey also masterminded what was Aviva's ultimately unsuccessful attempt at the takeover of rival Prudential in 2006.

Prudential is now chaired by Tidjane Thiam, the former chief executive of Aviva's international operations. Prudential increased its dividend payout to shareholders last week, bucking the trend set by the rest of the sector.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower