SCOR chairman Denis Kessler has died aged 71, the reinsurer said on Friday.
The business paid tribute to Kessler, who it described as “an iconic figure of the insurance and reinsurance world, and more widely of the French business world”. Kessler joined SCOR in 2002 as chairman and CEO, becoming non-executive chairman of the global reinsurer on June 30, 2021.
SCOR vice-chairman Augustin de Romanet is set to chair the board for an interim period, with a new chairman to be appointment following an ongoing process.
The reinsurer’s directors hailed Kessler as having made a “profound imprint” on the group.
“We salute the memory of a great man and an extraordinary leader, who was passionate about the insurance and reinsurance industries, their techniques, their values and their philosophy,” they said in a joint comment. “Denis has made a tremendous contribution to SCOR’s development over the past 21 years, and more widely to public debate on major contemporary economic and social policy issues.”
SCOR CEO Thierry Léger praised Kessler’s “unparalleled passion” for reinsurance and his ambitions to make the business a leader in the reinsurance space.
“I am privileged to have had the opportunity to work alongside Denis,” Léger said. “He leaves us an extraordinary legacy.
“It is now up to us to carry on his work.”
Kessler was born on March 25, 1952 in Mulhouse, France. Prior to entering reinsurance, he taught at a secondary school before taking up a career as an economics researcher, acting as an assistant lecturer in economics at Paris X-Nanterre University from 1978 to 1985.
From 1982 to 1990, he chaired CEREPI, the Center for Study and Research on Savings, Wealth and Inequalities.
Further notable roles previously held by Kessler include professor at Nancy II and later a professor at EHESS, the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Science, from 1990.
He was chair of the Foundation for Economic and Financial Research from 1985 to 1990 and sat on the board of directors of Union des assurances de Paris for two stints, from 1983 to1986 and 1988 to 1990.
In 1985, he was named chairman of the Banking Services Users’ Committee at the French National Credit Council, a role he held until 1990. That year, Kessler became chairman of the French Federation of Insurance Companies (FFSA) and remained in post until 1997, and then from 1998 to 2002.
He was on the executive committee of the National Council of French Employers (CNPF) and became its executive vice-chairman in 1994, and was vice-chairman and chairman of the Economic Commission.
Kessler was appointed senior executive vice-president and executive committee member of AXA in 1997, later leaving to support Ernest-Antoine Seillière, chairman of the CNPF.
He served as the first executive vice-chairman of the Mouvement des Entreprises de France, or the MEDEF (ex-CNPF), from 1999 to 2002 when he left to take up the chairman and CEO role at SCOR. On June 30, 2021, the CEO and chairman role was split and he became SCOR non-executive chairman.
Kessler acted as a board member for several companies, including Dexia (1999-2009), Bolloré (1999-2013), BNP Paribas (2000-2022), Invesco (since 2002) and Dassault Aviation (2003-2014).
The late SCOR chairman was elected to the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of the Institut de France in 2016.