AMP turns the page with management shake-up ahead of planned demerger

AMP turns the page with management shake-up ahead of planned demerger

Financial services giant AMP (ASX: AMP) has all but completed a shake-up of its senior management, looking to close the books on a weak corporate performance and the controversy surrounding sexual harassment allegations against a former executive.

The company has confirmed deputy CEO of ANZ (ASX: ANZ), Alexis George, will take on the role of CEO on 2 August following the retirement of Francesco De Ferrari from the role on 30 June.

In a separate announcement, the company says that US-based asset manager Shawn Johnson will take over as CEO of AMP Capital.

The appointment is aimed at AMP Capital putting behind it the controversy surrounding Boe Pahari, a former AMP Capital executive who was pressured out of the CEO's chair and left the company last year following an internal sexual harassment complaint.

The changes also come ahead of a planned demerger of AMP Capital from the parent company, which is expected to be completed in the first half of FY22.

However, the timing of De Ferrari's departure from AMP has highlighted a potential level of disquiet at the top for the group.

When the company announced the appointment of George to the CEO's position in April, the company said De Ferrari would "continue to lead AMP during the interim period and ensure a smooth handover".

Today, the company says chief financial officer James Georgeson will serve as acting CEO of AMP until George steps in.

Meanwhile, Johnson joins AMP Capital after running his own alternative investments business. Prior to that he spent almost a decade with State Street Global Advisors where he was senior managing director and chairman of the investment committee.

In that role, he oversaw US$2.1 trillion ($2.7 trillion) in client assets, including management of all State Street's private equity businesses.

Johnson has been appointed to lead AMP Capital's international growth strategy and the proposed demerger from AMP Ltd. He will step into the role on 28 June, based initially in Sydney.

David Atkin, AMP Capital's deputy CEO, will stay until 31 July to ensure a smooth transition.

"Shawn's extensive experience and knowledge of global investment management, particularly private markets, makes him an exceptional leader for AMP Capital," says AMP chair Debra Hazelton.

"Shawn has managed a joint venture holding of boutique asset management firms across North America, the UK, Europe and Asia, while also having experience in retirement planning in the US and Australia. Moreover, Shawn's more recent experience with his own alternative asset businesses is a practical demonstration of his entrepreneurial capabilities."

Johnson sees potential for AMP capital to grow domestically as well as internationally.

"I'm confident of its underlying strength and the depth of its investment, distribution, and operational talent," he says.

"Our focus will be to harness these strengths as we set up as a new, independent organisation following separation from AMP."

AMP suffered a 33 per cent fall in underlying earnings to $295 million in FY20. Its net profit of $177 million compared with a loss of $2.5 billion in FY19, although the latest result benefitted from the sale of AMP Life and a reduction in impairments.

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