Prudential under pressure to drop lone opposition to PIA lone opposition to regulator

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Pressure is growing on the Prudential to abandon its lone opposition to the industry regulator, the Personal Investment Authority, following the surprise resignation of Mick Newmarch as the Pru's chief executive.

Informal approaches have been made by the regulatory authority to bring the Pru into line, amid signs that some board members had been wavering behind the public front of unamimous defiance of the PIA.

Despite the Pru's formal statement that the it will not join the PIA, it is believed in the industry that after a decent interval, and the arrival of a new chief executive, Britain's leading insurer will abandon its controversial stance.

It is still unclear who will replace Mr Newmarch. Some insiders tip Jim Sutcliffe, who runs the Pru's core domestic insurance division, as the front-runner, but at 37 he may find his age against him. The other leading internal candidate is Keith Bedell-Pearce, 48, who runs the financial services division.

Mr Newmarch had waged a highly personalised, aggressive campaign against the PIA, questioning its suitability, but found the Prudential isolated in its opposition. His resignation came shortly after Lautro, the industry regulator which is being succeededby the PIA, delivered a damning report on the Prudential's selling of personal pensions. Mr Newmarch had persistently denied that the Prudential was in any way implicated in the scandal of the inappropriate selling of personal pension plans that has engulfed the industry.

The Prudential said yesterday: "We have always behaved perfectly properly with regard to the selling of pension transfers. No conversation or communication we have had with Lautro would indicate to us that we ought in any way to change our view."