AMP has issued a brief denial of reports that Francesco De Ferrari, the fix-it man brought in to repair the brand-damaged firm two years ago, resigned from the much-depleted ASX-listed financial services firm,.
But in a further update later on Friday March 26, AMP confirmed De Ferrari’s future at the firm was up in the air.
“The Board and Mr De Ferrari are working together and constructively discussing the future strategy and leadership of the group, post the completion of AMP’s portfolio review,” the ASX note says. “These discussions are ongoing and AMP will provide updates as required.”
De Ferrari took the reins at AMP in January 2019, replacing former interim chief, Mike Wilkins, who in turn had assumed the role following the resignation of incumbent Craig Meller earlier in 2018.
The board and executive clean-out at AMP followed a poor showing at the Royal Commission into Financial Services in Australia that also led to a string of reparation claims and legal actions.
Among a host of other tasks, De Ferrari oversaw the successful sale of AMP Life to Resolution last year but a bid to sell the remaining AMP listed entity to US investment firm Ares Management fell over this February.
However, talks are still underway to sell part of AMP Capital to Ares while the listed asset component of the fund management arm could also be offloaded or absorbed into the AMP Australia group (which covers advice, superannuation and the bank).
According to a report in the Australian Financial Review yesterday [March 25], current AMP Australia chief, Scott Hartley, would replace De Ferrari in the interim. Hartley took up the job last December following the exit of previous AMP Australia chief, Alex Wade, who left under a cloud.
Despite making progress on some aspects of the AMP overhaul, De Ferrari has been hampered by a string of scandals, including the sexual harassment revelation that forced Boe Pahari to resign as AMP Capital chief barely a month into the role. De Ferrari took over from Pahari in the meantime.
AMP went into a trading halt prior to issuing the short statement with its share price down about 3.6 per cent for the day.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported this morning (March 26): “In classic AMP style, speculation of De Ferrari’s plans to resign were not meaningfully addressed. Instead, the company moved to halt trading of its shares. Confusion reigns.”