AMP nixes rumours of CEO ouster

AMP has dismissed speculation that its chief executive, Francesco De Ferrari, would be resigning immediately, even while leaving the door open for a potential leadership change.

A Thursday report by The Australian Financial Review claimed De Ferrari would be out by the end of the day. Following the report, AMP requested a trading halt before assuring the market that De Ferrari remained its chief executive. However, AMP did not respond to questions about how long he would stay in the role, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

On Friday, AMP said in a statement that the leadership of the company was being negotiated, and would be determined after a portfolio review was conducted.

“AMP confirms there has been no change to the CEO’s position and that Mr De Ferrari has not resigned,” AMP said. “The board and Mr De Ferrari are working together and constructively discussing the future strategy and leadership of the group, post the completion of AMP’s portfolio review. These discussions are ongoing and AMP will provide updates as required.”

AMP started the review in September after it claimed to have received unsolicited offers from third parties to buy the group’s assets, the Herald reported. Last month, US investment firm Ares signed a non-binding agreement to buy 60% of AMP Capital’s private markets business.

That deal included a 30-day exclusivity period, which ended Sunday, according to the Herald. Should a binding agreement be established, the portfolio review will be completed and there could be a leadership shake-up.

AMP’s annual report, released this month, was supportive of De Ferrari’s leadership and his efforts to improve the company’s culture.

“The board stands firm with our CEO, Francesco De Ferrari, in his continued prioritisation of this important work,” the report said.

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In his own annual statement, De Ferrari gave no indication that he was considering leaving AMP.

However, a source told the Herald that AMP Capital’s assets did not provide competitive returns and suffered from dysfunctional management. Another source said AMP Capital had not sealed many deals over the past year.

Despite the company’s troubles, investors, analysts and even AMP employees said they were surprised by the AFR report.

Deloitte partner Russell Mason told the Herald that he hoped any future changes in AMP’s leadership structure would help “turn things around” for the company.

“We need AMP to be a competitive participant in the financial services market,” Mason said. “I never like seeing such a big, established player like that disappear or fall to pieces. It’s not in anybody’s long-term interest.”

Ryan SmithRyan Smith is currently an executive editor at Key Media, where he started as a journalist in 2013. He has since he worked his way up to managing editor and is now an executive editor. He edits content for several B2B publications across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. He also writes feature content for trade publications for the insurance and mortgage industries.
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