Legal & General boss Sir Nigel Wilson declares intention to retire


Legal & General CEO Sir Nigel Wilson to retire within 12 months after 11 years at the helm of the insurer

  • L&G’s annual profits and shareholder returns have soared during Wilson’s tenure
  • He helped lead L&G’s move into real estate and infrastructure investments
  • Wilson was also an outspoken supporter of Solvency II regulatory reform

Legal & General CEO Sir Nigel Wilson is retiring after more than a decade at the helm of the financial services company.

Since becoming CEO in 2012, Wilson, 66, has overseen an improvement in the company’s financial performance, with annual earnings more than doubling and shareholder returns exceeding 600 percent.

He has helped lead the group’s move into real estate and infrastructure investments such as the London Gateway project, Sky Studios Elstree and urban renewal projects in Sheffield and Newcastle.

Tenure: Since becoming CEO of Legal & General in 2012, Sir Nigel Wilson has overseen more than double annual profits and shareholder returns of more than 600 percent

Wilson will remain in office while the board searches for his successor, which is estimated to take about a year, and will consider candidates from both inside and outside the company.

The outgoing boss has been outspoken in favor of reforming the Solvency II regime, which the UK government hopes will free up billions of extra pounds for insurers to invest in areas such as green energy and infrastructure.

Wilson originally joined L&G in 2009 as chief financial officer, having previously held positions at electronics retailer Dixons, real estate developer Stanhope and consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Last year he was knighted for services to the financial sector and regional development and offered the position of Minister of Investment in Liz Truss’s short-lived government.

Soon after, L&G came under great pressure from a controversial “mini-budget,” which led to the sale of government bonds by pension funds holding liability-based investments (LDIs).

The London-listed company is one of the UK’s biggest sellers of LDIs, which are designed to ensure final salary schemes can cover future payouts, but falling government bond prices have left many pension funds on the brink of collapse.

Sir Nigel admitted in the House of Lords’ Committee on Economic Affairs that the market turmoil ‘surprised us all’, but argued that the company’s stress testing models were not to blame.

Sir John Kingman, L&G’s chairman, said Monday that Wilson has ‘successfully navigated significant geopolitical changes and challenges in the regulatory and market environment of each of our core businesses and has led the group to a position of strength from which it can continue to develop’ .’

He added: ‘Under his leadership, the group has consistently achieved profitable, sustainable and inclusive growth. Nigel is a tireless champion of investment-led growth and responsible investing.”

Wilson told investors the decision to step down came with “mixed emotions,” but believes the company has built “a strong foundation to support the next phase of growth.”

Legal & General Group shares fell 1.8 percent to 256 pence on Monday, making them one of the top five fallers on the FTSE 100 Index.

The insurer further stated today that its outlook for full-year operating profit growth for 2022 remains unchanged and expects to report an operating surplus of £1.8 billion.

Analysts at JP Morgan Cazenove said, “We believe L&G has the balance sheet to grow, and with the annuity and bulk annuity business self-funding,” we believe it can absorb the capex costs of strong growth while growing cash flows and dividends. ‘