Denis Kessler, one of the influential figures within the world reinsurance business over the previous 20 years, has died on the age of 71.
French reinsurer Scor, the place Kessler had spent 20 years as chair, paid tribute to him on Friday, saying he had “devoted his total life to enterprise”.
He was “a person of tradition”, it stated, in addition to “an economist and an iconic determine of the insurance coverage and reinsurance world, and extra broadly of the French enterprise world”.
Lloyd’s of London chief government John Neal informed the Monetary Instances that the business “wants characters and voices that rise up for the most effective we have now to supply and Denis might be perpetually missed”.
“We’re all ‘doffing our berets’ and fondly remembering our time with him,” Neal stated.
Kessler chaired the French Federation of Insurance coverage Firms throughout two durations within the Nineties and thru to the 2000s, and was president of the group behind the Rendez-Vous de Septembre, the pre-eminent annual reinsurance occasion in Monte Carlo.
He had been a board member of a number of main firms, together with a two-decade stint at banking group BNP Paribas, and held a seat on the board at asset supervisor Invesco since 2002. He was additionally a member of France’s Financial, Social and Environmental Council from 1993 to 2010.
Kessler was broadly lauded within the business for the turnround of Scor, taking it from the breaking point in 2002 to one in all Europe’s greatest reinsurers — teams that present cowl to major insurers.
“Folks will shake my hand once more now,” Kessler joked a few years later, after returning it to revenue and restoring its dividend.
However the later a part of his tenure was marked by a bitter authorized struggle with Covéa, after the French mutual group launched a hostile takeover bid in 2018.
Covéa’s method spiralled right into a drawn-out struggle, involving accusations being thrown on either side by way of courts and the press, that was solely settled in 2021.
In the identical yr Kessler gave up the chief government function after a name from France’s monetary regulator to separate the 2 prime roles on the group, amid a high-profile governance battle with activist investor CIAM.
Kessler oversaw one final reshuffle earlier this yr, when his successor as CEO Laurent Rousseau resigned from the board after inflation and pure catastrophe-related claims soured efficiency and hit the share worth.
Thierry Léger, who changed Rousseau within the prime job, paid tribute to Kessler, saying his “ardour for reinsurance was unparalleled, and his ambition to make Scor an business chief by no means left him. It has been the driving pressure behind all his actions on the head of the group over the previous 21 years.”
Scor stated its vice-chair, Augustin de Romanet, would chair the board till a brand new chair was appointed.