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Sunday 15 December 2019

Old Mutual’s Patrick O’Sullivan named as new Saga chairman

He will be paid £325,000 per year but will not be entitled to any further benefits.

Saga stock
Saga stock

By Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association City Correspondent

Over-50s travel and insurance firm Saga has appointed Old Mutual’s Patrick O’Sullivan as its new chairman as the company looks to recover from the financial impact of Monarch Airlines’ collapse.

He will replace Andrew Goodsell, who the company confirmed in October was set to retire from the board.

Mr O’Sullivan will take up his post on May 1 – one day after Mr Goodsell steps down – with his appointment to be put to shareholders at the next annual general meeting.

The Old Mutual chairman will be paid £325,000 per year, but will not be entitled to any further compensation or benefits.

He takes the role after eight years at the head of Old Mutual, following 12 years at Zurich Insurance Group where he held a number of positions including as the group’s chief financial office and vice chairman of the management board.

Mr O’Sullivan also brings experience from his time as deputy governor of the Bank of Ireland and chairman of the UK’s Shareholder Executive.

The appointed Saga boss currently serves as chairman of ERS, which is a  Lloyd’s specialist motor insurer.

Old Mutual

Commenting on the appointment, senior independent director Orna NiChionna said:  “We are delighted to welcome Patrick to the board of Saga.

“He brings many years of highly relevant commercial and board experience, working with companies in the financial services and insurance sectors.

“His wisdom and leadership will be invaluable as we invest in growing the customer base to deliver profit growth across the business.”

The appointment follows a management shake-up announced in January, which was hot on the heels of its December profit warning.

The company said last month that managing director of tour operations Jeannette Linfoot left the business, while Robin Shaw was appointed to the new role of chief executive of Saga Travel after a restructuring which will see tour and cruise operations combine.

Also as part of the reshuffle, Gary Duggan took over from Roger Ramsden as chief executive of Saga Services.

Mr Ramsden was due to take up a new role within the group but this will now “not be taken forward following the review”, Saga said, adding that he will leave in the first quarter.

Saga warned in December that the collapse of Monarch had hit earnings, saying that efforts to attract new customers will see next year’s profits fall.

The group said the airline’s demise in October, which saw holidays cancelled for around 860,000 people, had knocked its tour operations business, leaving it with a £2 million one-off hit.

Saga said this would slow growth in underlying pre-tax profits to between 1% and 2% for the year to January 31, down from more than 5% in the first half.

There was further gloom for the new financial year as the group added that a plan to invest an extra £10 million a year into attracting new customers, alongside other “headwinds”, would see underlying profits fall by around 5%.

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