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AMP names new chief executive

After a week of speculation, AMP has confirmed its chief executive Francesco De Ferrari will step down following the group's portfolio review and has named his successor.

Alexis George has been at ANZ for over seven years as deputy chief executive and group executive wealth Australia, overseeing the sale of the business in 2018. She first joined ANZ as global managing director - insurance - ANZ Wealth.

George was previously at ING Insurance and oversaw IT, operations, marketing and product for Asia Pacific and was chief executive of ING Insurance in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and executive director at ING Australia.

Prior to this, she was chief executive at BNP Paribas and executive director at BT.

"While there is no optimal time for transition, the board and I agreed that for AMP to deliver on the next phase of its ambitious transformation, at this juncture long-term certainty of leadership is critical for our business, our employees and our clients," De Ferrari said.

"Leading AMP, a business that is part of the fabric of Australia and New Zealand, is a privilege. I wish Alexis and AMP only the best and you can count on me to continue cheering for its success from the sidelines."

De Ferrari will remain in his role until the third quarter of this year, at which point George will take over.

De Ferrari was first appointed as chief executive in December 2018 CEO on a rolling contract with either party being able to terminate on six months' notice other than if AMP terminated the contract summarily.

In her role as AMP chief executive, George will receive a sign-on award of AMP shares worth $4.091 and $732,500 in cash followed by a salary of $1.715 million per annum. George is eligible for a short-term incentive opportunity equivalent to 100% of the salary and up to 200% subject to performance hurdles.

AMP chair Debra Hazelton thanked De Ferrari for his two-year tenure at AMP and said the completion of the portfolio review marks an appropriate time for a new chief executive to lead AMP.

"Francesco has led AMP through an extraordinary period, responding to unprecedented external challenges, all while successfully executing a complex transformation program. His strategy has materially reshaped the group, simplified AMP and sharpened the focus of each of our businesses on their strongest growth opportunities," she said.

"In Alexis George, we have a great leader and strong fit for the future of our company. On any measure, she has outstanding industry experience in wealth management and banking, and is committed to continue the transformation of AMP's business, and importantly, our organisation's culture."

The announcement comes as speculation grew that De Ferrari was set to resign last Thursday and former Sunsuper chief executive and current AMP Australia chief executive Scott Hartley was expected to step in as his interim replacement, however, AMP said De Ferrari would stay on in his role.

Throughout De Ferrari's time as chief executive of AMP, it has offloaded its life insurance business to UK's Resolution Life, its global equities unit to  Fiera Capital, and announced proposed plans for Ares Management to assume the management control of the private markets business.

AMP executives faced claims of sexual harassment from female colleagues and sparked an exodus of several executives. But former AMP Capital chief executive Boe Pahari still remains employed by the company and receives substantial pay cheques.

De Ferrari will receive $300,000 for his work at AMP Capital following Pahari's resignation and $200,000 reimbursed for relocation costs as well as taxation and visa advice.

On Monday AMP concluded its exclusivity period with Ares raising uncertainty as to whether the acquisition of AMP Capital's private markets business will go ahead.

Read more: AMPAlexis GeorgeFrancesco De FerrariING InsuranceBNP ParibasING Australia