Duperreault’s career comes full circle
A subtle pattern of symmetries has been created by this week’s appointment of Brian Duperreault as chief executive officer of American International Group.
Not only has Mr Duperreault, 70, come full circle in his career, having entered the insurance sector in 1973 at AIG, he is now leading the company that seven decades ago was the first international insurer in Bermuda.
The company was a pioneer for Bermuda’s subsequent emergence as one of the world’s major insurance and reinsurance hubs.
Now, just as AIG played such a key role in bringing a prosperous direction to the island’s economic destiny many years ago, it is a Bermudian who has stepped up to help AIG through a difficult period.
By further coincidence, Mr Duperreault was born in Bermuda in 1947, the same year that American International Company incorporated on the island.
AIC was a component of what became AIG, and handled the non-US business of the American International group.
Although born in Bermuda, Mr Duperreault was raised in Trenton, New Jersey, the only child of a single working mother.
He started work for AIG and its affiliates in 1973 and rose through the executive ranks, being viewed as a potential future CEO.
However, in 1994 he joined Ace, now Chubb, in Bermuda — fulfilling a desire to reconnect with the island, albeit after 47 years.
When Mr Duperreault was approached for the CEO role at Ace he already had a Bermudian passport and status, but he did not reveal those facts until he had secured the post as he wanted the appointment to be made solely on merit.
At the time, Ace was a relatively narrowly focused Bermudian-based insurer. During his decade at the company, Mr Duperreault transformed it into a globally significant insurer.
After his ten-year tenure as CEO, he remained for a further two years as non-executive chairman before retiring in 2006.
Two years later he was approached to come out of retirement and lead Marsh & McLennan Companies, the second-largest insurance broker in the world.
Marsh was saddled with a series of problems, including legacy issues, excess capacity, lawsuits and organisation woes.
Mr Duperreault accepted the challenge and during his four years as CEO reorganised and turned the company around.
He retired for a second time in 2012, but it was another short hiatus. The following year he founded Bermudian-based Hamilton Insurance Group with New York-based Two Sigma Investments. He was chief executive officer and chairman.
Then on Monday, he was appointed CEO of AIG, 44 years after first working for the company.
AIG has a global workforce of about 56,000 and a market capitalisation of $57 billion. It has maintained a strong presence in Bermuda since the incorporation of AIC in 1947, and has offices on Richmond Road, Pembroke.
AIG hit rocky ground in the early 2000s and teetered on the brink of collapse as a result of the global financial crisis of 2008. It received a $185 billion bailout from the US government, which was fully repaid by 2012.
However, the pace and nature of the company’s slow recovery has concerned investors, including billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn.
In Marsh, Peter Hancock, CEO of AIG, announced plans to resign. This sparked a hunt for a replacement.
Mr Duperreault, as one of the industry’s most effective and highly regarded leaders, was immediately included on a speculative list of possible candidates.
He stood out with his impressive track record at Ace, Marsh and Hamilton, and his key role with AIG from 1973 to 1994 as it became a global powerhouse.
His appointment this week to lead AIG was broadly welcomed.
Mr Icahn, in a tweet, said: “Very pleased the AIG board is finally making some of the much needed changes we’ve been advocating the last 18 months.”
While Douglas Steenland, AIG chairman, said: “He is a hands-on leader who has consistently delivered strong bottom line results.”
And Mr Duperreault, who is also part of the team spearheading the redevelopment of Morgan’s Point, has made clear his intentions at AIG.
As his insurance industry career came full circle on Monday, he said: “It is a privilege to return and lead AIG. I look forward to building on AIG’s nearly 100-year heritage as one of the world’s leading insurers for its next century.”
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