The Business On... Tidjane Thiam, Chief executive, Prudential
Thursday 11 November 2010
So he's still in a job then?
Clinging on. Prudential's disastrous abortive bid for AIA, the Asian insurance giant, prompted calls from shareholders for Mr Thiam to step down. He refused and continues to do so.
Is he getting an easier time now?
Well, it helps that Pru keeps on publishing such strong sales performances – yesterday's third-quarter numbers were storming.
But didn't Mr Thiam waste millions on the AIA bid?
Yes, not least because of the whacking break fee Pru had to pay to pull out of the deal. But everyone deserves a second chance.
And weren't people cross about that non-executive post, too?
In hindsight, Mr Thiam probably shouldn't have allowed his name to be put forward as a potential non-executive director of Société Générale. The appointment was mooted just as he was in the middle of trying to get the AIA deal through and he had to withdraw. Still, everyone deserves a third chance.
Wasn't he supposed to be afantastic appointment for Pru?
He may yet prove to be. Certainly, the first 18 months in the top job (he was previously Pru's finance director) have not been easy. But since the majority of shareholders seem happy to leave him in post, let's give him a chance to prove them right.
Still, the pressure must be on to perform now?
Well he's had his final warning. But let's be fair to Mr Thiam: his back story is so interesting that any suggestion he was failing was bound to get blown up out of all proportion. He's Britain's first black FTSE 100 CEO, he was a minister in the Ivory Coast until a military coup and had an impressive career at McKinsey.
So what next?
Who knows: Mr Thiam can be unpredictable. Still, a period of reflection might be an idea. He should take a leaf out of the book of his favourite football team: as Arsenal have proved, boring can be winning.
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