Prudential launches search for chairman to replace Clementi

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Prudential has begun the search for a chairman to replace Sir David Clementi, who is to retire in two years' time.

The headhunter Whitehead Mann has been appointed to draw up a shortlist of candidates for a selection process that could take more than a year.

Sir David, who will be 60 in 2010, is thought to be keen to hand over the reins to concentrate on other activities, including his interest in City livery companies. In 2005 the Corporation of London appointed him to the panel that selects lord mayors.

Aside from Prudential, Sir David holds directorships at the mining group Rio Tinto and the Royal Opera House.

After studying at Oxford and Harvard Business School, he joined Arthur Andersen in 1970 as a chartered accountant and enjoyed a glittering career in the Square Mile. He made his name at Kleinwort Benson, rising to become chief executive and helping to advise the Conservative government on privatisations. In 1997 he was appointed deputy Governor of the Bank of England, a post he held for five years.

He became chairman of Prudential in 2002. A largely benign period followed until 2005, when he was instrumental in the removal of the then chief executive Jonathan Bloomer, who had taken the shock decision to raise £1bn in a rights issue. The share price plunged as low as 390p amid a barrage of criticism from City investors.

Sir David's appointment of Mark Tucker, the former head of the insurer's Asian business, in Mr Bloomer's wake now looks to have been vindicated after an initially difficult start, which saw him having to fend off Aviva's hostile takeover bid and defend the firm amid calls for its break-up.

A City source said: "The Pru is now in much better shape, and given [that Sir David will] be 60 in two years it seems a good time for him to hand over the baton."

The Prudential declined to comment. Shares in the company closed on Friday at 663p.