After 27 years in the Group, and close to 17 years as Chief Executive Officer, Henri de Castries, Chairman and CEO of AXA, has announced his decision to retire and to step down from the Board of Directors on September 1st, 2016.
Following a comprehensive succession planning process led by AXA's Compensation and Governance Committee under the leadership of Jean-Martin Folz, AXA's Board of Directors unanimously decided at a special meeting held on March 19th, 2016 to separate the functions of Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, and approved the following appointments effective upon Henri de Castries’ retirement on September 1st:
- Denis Duverne as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors,
- Thomas Buberl as Chief Executive Officer of AXA and a member of AXA's Board of Directors co-opted to replace Henri de Castries.
From March 21st, 2016, Thomas Buberl joins the Group Head Office in Paris and is appointed Deputy CEO (“Directeur général adjoint”). He will work closely with Henri de Castries and Denis Duverne to finalize AXA’s new strategic plan, expected to be released on June 21st, 2016, and to ensure an effective leadership transition.
It has been a privilege to succeed Claude Bébéar and lead AXA over all these years, and I want to express my gratitude to the 166,000 women and men who are the face of AXA for our 103 million clients across the world - their professionalism and engagement have been a driving force and a fantastic motivation for me.
The succession planning process initiated by the Board upon my request in October 2013, confirmed the breadth and the quality of AXA’s teams and helped us identify a new generation of leaders. Denis and I are extremely proud of the team we have been able to build and develop.
In the wake of our success in achieving our Ambition AXA plan, and before we enter into a new strategic cycle, I considered, with the support of the Board, that it was the best moment to begin the transition to a new management team who I know will very successfully lead AXA through the next stages of its development. While I will leave the Group with great emotion, I am very happy and confident to see Thomas take over the executive management of AXA. He has the experience, leadership skills and values to seize the opportunities offered by a rapidly changing world, and to make AXA a company that is always closer to its clients - which will be the key of our long term growth.
The Board of Directors agreed that the best combination for AXA is to associate Thomas Buberl’s clear strategic vision, his deep knowledge of the insurance sector, as well as his energy and leadership skills, with Denis Duverne’s great experience and knowledge of the Group as well as his understanding of corporate governance practices and of the regulatory environment.
Commenting on Henri de Castries’ decision, Norbert Dentressangle added:
The Board is extremely grateful to Henri de Castries for his invaluable contribution to the success of AXA since 1989. Under his leadership, AXA has become a leading global insurance brand, significantly strengthened its footprint in emerging markets, notably in Asia, and has successfully withstood several years of severe crises while keeping its commitments to its clients, delivering positive results and continuing to pay a dividend to its shareholders. In 2015, while progressing on the execution of an intense digital transformation, AXA successfully achieved its 5-year strategic plan, and delivered record underlying earnings, which represents an eightfold increase during Henri de Castries' tenure as CEO. The Board of Directors would like to pay him a strong and well-deserved tribute for his actions, and extends its very warm thanks to Denis Duverne who, as Deputy CEO, has been instrumental in AXA’s strategic decisions and strengthening the Group’s solidity. Together, they leave to the new leadership team a very well-managed, extremely resilient Group, with high quality and engaged employees.