Insurance giant defends board member’s suitability

Insurance giant defends board member’s suitability | Insurance Business

Insurance giant defends board member’s suitability
QBE has responded to investors’ concerns about a candidate’s election as a non-executive director (NED).

Company secretary Duncan Ramsay has written to the Australian Stock Exchange’s market announcements office outlining six reasons why Margaret Leung should be elected to the board.

The letter came in response to concerns about Leung’s ability to devote enough time to QBE responsibilities.

“We understand that some investors are considering voting ‘against’ Ms Leung’s election at our 2014 AGM as she appears to be on too many boards (and therefore may not be able to devote sufficient time to her QBE responsibilities),” Ramsay wrote.

“We have set out below reasons why we believe she should be elected to the Board and request that shareholders vote ‘for’ Ms Leung’s election.”

The first reason stated that following a rigorous appointment process where she was identified as the standout Asian-based NED candidate, Leung demonstrated a high level commitment by fully participating in all board and committee meetings pre and post QBE’s profit downgrade in December 2013 either when in Sydney or by telephone from Hong Kong.

Her skills and experience in Asia Pacific insurance businesses, bancassurance models globally, managing global businesses and the challenges of regulation in different trading environments were outlined as crucial to implementing QBE’s growth strategy in that part of the world.

Her experience as former chief executive of Hang Seng Bank and her 35 years’ experience with the HSBC group were also listed as reasons, since QBE bought the general insurance subsidiary and entered into a bancassurance agreement with both.

Other reasons included were her directorship with China Construction Bank, with which QBE has a joint venture with in Hong Kong; that she is not a chairman of any QBE committee so her role is not as wide as a NED who is a committee chairman and that because Hong Kong boards do not require as much time as an Australian board the number of her HK directorships is not comparable to a similar list in Australia.

QBE’s AGM takes place on 2 April.

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