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Allianz’s top two investing executives to retire from insurer

Insurers and asset managers are grappling with record low interest rates and stricter regulatory capital requirements. (AP Photo)
Insurers and asset managers are grappling with record low interest rates and stricter regulatory capital requirements. (AP Photo)

(Bloomberg) -- Allianz SE, Europe’s biggest insurer, said its two most senior executives responsible for the company’s asset management and investments businesses will leave.

Jay Ralph will step down at the end of June, while Maximilian Zimmerer won’t extend his contract when it expires at the end of the year, the company said in a statement on Thursday. Both management board members are 57 years old.

Insurers and asset managers are grappling with record low interest rates and stricter regulatory capital requirements. Oliver Baete, who took over as chief executive officer of Allianz in May, also faces a slowdown in the insurer’s main markets and increased use of digital technology which he says is both a disruption and an opportunity for insurers.

Allianz said it appointed Jacqueline Huntas successor to Ralph to lead its asset-management and U.S. life-insurance divisions. Hunt, 47, previously led Prudential Plc’s U.K. and European division. Allianz Asset Management had almost $2 trillion of assets at the end of last year. Its investment managers include Pacific Investment Management Co.

Guenther Thallinger, 44, will take over from Zimmerer to lead investment management and global life and health, according to the company.

Board’s ‘rejuvenation’

“It’s definitely a rejuvenation of the board and any resulting boost in management’s energy is something to welcome,” said Werner Schirmer, an analyst at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg who has a hold recommendation on Allianz shares. “Still, it’s not as if younger executives will find it any easier to navigate this environment. The asset management industry faces difficulty in generating returns.”

Ralph resigned at his own request to “devote more time to his family," the insurer said. It is also Zimmerer’s own wish to retire.

Their exit is a surprise, since neither man “had any issues that made you think they might leave, this isn’t investment banking after all,” Schirmer said.

Hunt spent two years at Prudential until leaving in October amid reports she clashed with her new boss, Mike Wells. Hunt had helped the U.K. insurer navigate a government overhaul of the pensions system that at the time erased 3.6 billion pounds ($5.1 billion) of the industry’s market value. Thallinger currently serves as head of the Allianz Investment Management SE unit, according to the company.

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