QBE CEO to depart after probe into conduct and emails
Insurer QBE's chief executive Pat Regan is to exit the company following an external investigation that found he exercised "poor judgment" and failed to meet the group's code of ethics.
In a statement to the ASX on Tuesday, QBE said the investigation had determined that Mr Regan had not met the standards set out in the company's code of ethics and conduct.
"We are committed to having a respectful and inclusive environment for everyone at QBE," chairman Mike Wilkins said.
"The board concluded that he had exercised poor judgment in this regard."
The Australian understands the exit of Mr Regan is linked to a broad scan of management and staff emails, which found material that led to the CEO being axed. A female employee was said to have lobbed a complaint with QBE about ten days ago.
Mr Wilkins made it clear all QBE employees had to meet the same standards, required by the company.
"While these are challenging circumstances the board recognises and thanks Mr Regan for his hard work and contribution to strengthening QBE.
"However, all employees must be held to the same standards."
Mr Wilkins will take on the role of executive chairman while the company searched for a new CEO.
The latest conduct scandal follows AMP last week losing chairman David Murray and board member John Fraser after investors revolted against the company's response to several incidents, including the promotion of Boe Pahari despite a 2017 sexual harassment complaint.
Mr Pahari was demoted last week, back to his infrastructure equity position, and won't lead the AMP Capital division.
AMP also lost its Australia boss Alex Wade last month due to conduct issues, with The Australian revealing he sent lewd photos to a female employee.
QBE's statement said that the board would be putting in more initiatives to develop a, "vibrant and inclusive culture", including a culture review and a new avenue for employees to safely raise concerns and receive support.
"We want our people to have the avenues they need to safely speak up, with the confidence that they will be heard and that all concerns raised will be treated consistently across our workforce," Mr Wilkins said.
He moved to reassure investors on Tuesday morning, saying that the fundamentals of the business were strong.
"While COVID-19 has created significant challenges, QBE is successfully navigating this period of uncertainty, and the group's demonstrable financial strength positions us well to capitalise on accelerating pricing momentum and emerging organic growth opportunities," Mr Wilkins said.
Mr Regan took charge three years ago following another bout of management insecurity at the $15.6 billion global insurer.
He replaced John Neal who was forced to resign as chief executive in September 2017 following a string of profit downgrades and a scandal over a relationship with his secretary that he failed to disclose, prompting the board to dock Mr Neal's pay by $550,000.
Mr Neal's exit also followed the sudden ouster of QBE's chief operations officer Colin Fagen.
Mr Regan pocketed nearly $US4.43m for 2019, which included a cash bonus of $US665,000.
QBE shares closed on Monday at $10.61.
- THE AUSTRALIAN
Originally published as QBE CEO to depart after probe into emails