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Sir Nigel Wilson to retire after decade at top of Legal & General

Resignation: Legal & General boss Sir Nigel Wilson retires as chief executive after more than a decade at the helm

Sir Nigel Wilson will retire as Managing Director of Legal & General after more than a decade at the helm

Sir Nigel Wilson is retiring as Managing Director of Legal & General after more than a decade at the helm.

Two of the top internal candidates to succeed him as asset manager and insurer are women – and if either is nominated, it could add to the dominance of female leaders in the sector.

Citi analysts said Wilson, 66, would be a “tough act to follow” and shares fell 1.8% on news of his departure.

Investors have enjoyed returns of 641% since he joined the firm, compared to 164% for the FTSE 100, L&G said.

Wilson started at the company in 2009 as chief financial officer and took the top job in 2012. He was paid £4.5m in 2021.

L&G said it would begin a “broad search” for a replacement, including a “strong bench of senior executives and divisional chief executives” as well as external candidates.

Possible inside hires for the job include Laura Mason, who heads L&G Capital’s alternative assets division.

Michelle Scrimgeour, managing director of the group’s investment management unit, and Jeff Davies, chief financial officer of L&G are also in the running.

This could mean the company appoints the first female chief executive in its 187-year history.

Rivals Aviva and Admiral are already led by Amanda Blanc and Milena Mondini of Focatiis while Prudential is chaired by Baroness Vadera, and Penny James has just lost the helm of Direct Line. An L&G spokesperson said: ‘We will not speculate on individuals.

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The company, which is valued at £15.6bn, said the appointment and transition period would take “about a year”.

Wilson led L&G through a turbulent period in the industry, which saw four leadership changes from rival Aviva as well as a dissolution of Prudential.

Under his leadership, the company’s assets under management grew to over £1.3 trillion and the group led investments in areas such as housing, infrastructure and science parks.

Wilson, an avid athlete who grew up on a municipal estate in County Durham, argued for “inclusive capitalism” – generating returns for shareholders while making investments that will help tackle inequality.

He also backed an overhaul of the so-called Solvency II rules, which the government hopes will unlock billions of pounds of investment in areas such as green energy and infrastructure.

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A father of five, Wilson has served on business advisory boards for a number of prime ministers and was knighted last year. He rejected an offer to serve as investment minister under Liz Truss.

He said yesterday: “I firmly believe we have laid a solid foundation to support the next phase of growth for the group.”

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