Shareholder storm will rock Pru's boat at AGM

The beleaguered life insurer Prudential will today make a further attempt to launch a fightback following the collapse of its $35.5bn (£24.5bn) bid to take over the Asian insurer AIA.

The annual meeting of the company – which lost its shareholders £450m as a result of the deal's failure – will provide an army of small investors the chance to question its board at the Queen Elizabeth Centre in Westminster – a venue the Pru had hoped would serve as the launch-pad for the deal.

The chief executive, Tidjane Thiam, and chairman, Harvey McGrath, are likely to have to answer for their actions at the event, which could prove to be a stormy affair.

Questions have already been raised in the City over the long-term future at the company of the two men, although larger institutions have indicated that they will be given a "stay of execution" to steady the ship after the upheavals of the past months.

Even so, the company created fresh controversy at the end of last week after Mr McGrath referred to those who have called for heads to roll as "outliers". Several shareholders are understood to have demanded meetings with the company to discuss its conducted.

Prudential insists its board remains behind both Mr McGrath and Mr Thiam, while Mr McGrath has said there will be no resignations.

Robin Geffen, the chief executive of fund manager Neptune, which led opposition to the deal, urged small shareholders to attend and voice their unhappiness with the company's actions. "This is their chance, they will not be able to secure a meeting with the company," said Mr Geffen, adding that he was "disappointed but not surprised" by Mr McGrath's comments.

"They have been high-handed and arrogant from the word go," he said. "At the end of the day, somebody needs to be accountable for what has happened. I want to stress that this is my view and my view alone but the position of the chief executive is untenable and I want to know what the non-executive directors are doing here."

Mr Geffen said he had been trying to secure a meeting with Prudential, but the company had failed to respond to his requests. He will not attend the AGM, because he said it would be "inappropriate" for an institution such as Neptune to appear at a forum designed to give small, individual shareholders the chance to put points to the directors of the company.

Prudential killed off the deal after trying to renegotiate the sum it was prepared to pay AIA's state-owned parent company American International Group, after it became clear that shareholders would not accept the $35.5bn price at a time of tumbling world markets.

But AIG turned down a revised $30.3bn cash and shares offer, which required Prudential to pay a break fee of £150m. The Pru has also been forced to pay up £300m to a battery of lawyers, bankers and public relations consultants despite intense criticism of the way the communication of the deal was handled.

While there has been talk that the insurer could now be a candidate for a break-up bid, sources close to it have played this down, noting that capital generated by the UK arm – a target for Clive Cowdery's Resolution Group – helps fuel growth at Prudential's existing Asian business. That operation is still seen as the jewel in the Pru's crown.

Shares in the life insurer closed 9.5p lower at 556p last week.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee