Lloyd’s of London Names John Neal as CEO, Replacing Inga Beale

(Bloomberg) -- Lloyd’s of London named John Neal as its new chief executive officer, succeeding Inga Beale at the helm of the world’s oldest and biggest insurance market.

Neal, who used to run Australia’s QBE Insurance Group Ltd., will take the reins at a difficult time for Lloyd’s. The 330-year-old market lost money for the first time in six years in 2017 and -- like other U.K. businesses -- is facing a more complicated business environment after Brexit. Beale’s attempts to encourage underwriters to conduct their business electronically is also a work in progress, with many firms still using a rubber stamp to seal deals on paper.

“John will continue Lloyd’s focus on delivering sustainable profitability,” Chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown said in a statement Friday. “An immediate priority will be the successful launch of Lloyd’s Brussels subsidiary, which will enable Lloyd’s to continue serving its customers in the European Economic Area after Brexit.”

Neal, 53, was CEO of QBE for five years before stepping down in December 2017 following a profit warning. During his tenure QBE shares delivered investors an annualized total return of around 1 percent, compared with over 20 percent at its peers. He’ll take up his new role on Oct. 15.

Beale was the first woman to lead Lloyd’s. Since taking the helm in 2014, she has sought to improve diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry, a bastion of maleness in the City of London. While many people have praised her efforts, some were frustrated by her focus at a time when business was being lost to other global insurance hubs and margins were coming under pressure.

“The new CEO will really have to show that he can pick up the ball and run with the same momentum that Inga achieved” when it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion across the industry, Carnegie-Brown said by phone.

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