Activist investor CIAM has raised several concerns about the succession plan and transition period at SCOR, which announced yesterday that CEO Denis Kessler will hand leadership of the reinsurer over to Laurent Rousseau after June this year.
Rousseau is currently Deputy CEO of SCOR Global P&C, Chairman of SCOR Europe and member of the Group Executive Committee, and has has held senior positions at SCOR for the past eleven years.
After the transition, Kessler will retain his role as Chairman from this point, meaning the traditionally joint role of CEO and Chairman at SCOR will be seperated.
This was one the key demands made by CIAM in previous public criticisms of SCOR. CIAM CEO Catherine Berjal has been vocal in her criticisms of Kessler’s leadership, and entered into a prolonged spat with the company after its rejection of an €8.2 billion takeover bid from Covea in 2018.
Now, in a new statement from Berjal, concerns have been raised about the selection process of the SCOR succession candidates that were put in place by the Compensation and Nomination Committee headed by Augustin de Romanet.
“CIAM wonders why Laurent Rousseau was not instead appointed interim CEO, alongside Benoit Ribadeau-Dumas, who has had significant experience as an executive at several listed companies, and who, based on his profile, should easily understand the insurance business, in order to allow for an efficient transition period with the aim of providing SCOR with new momentum,” Berjal wrote.
“The appointment of Laurent Rousseau, who has worked under the direct supervision of Denis Kessler for over ten years, raises the question of his independence and we will therefore remain vigilant as to how the succession process, which is now undergoing an unexpected stage, materialises,” she continued.
“His operational autonomy remains a fundamental issue in terms of good governance. This is true for all companies, and even more so for those whose stock shows chronic underperformance, as is the case with SCOR.”
SCOR has yet to respond to the points raised by CIAM, but in the past the reinsurer has been dismissive of what it considers to be repeatedly “unfounded” claims made by the activist investor, whose interest in SCOR it says is merely “speculative and short term.”