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Tower seeks new CEO to drive digital change

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New Zealand’s third-largest insurer Tower is seeking a CEO to deliver results from the company’s investment in new technology.

The executive search has been made necessary by the decision of incumbent CEO Richard Harding not to extend his contract part its current term.

Mr Harding, who joined Tower as CEO in 2015, will to return to Australia toward the end of next year.

Chairman Michael Stiassny says the board has started a domestic and international search for a new CEO that can continue driving Tower’s shift into a digital challenger.

“We have fixed the foundations of the business and will be using digital to challenge the New Zealand market, grow the business and deliver shareholder value, and the new CEO will focus on delivering these benefits,” he said last week.

Mr Harding formerly led Darwin-based TIO, which was acquired in 2014 by Allianz. Prior to that he held senior positions with IAG including head of China and head of strategy and mergers and acquisitions.

“He has decided to return to Australia to be with his family after commuting for some time,” Tower said in a statement last week.

Tower reported net profit of $NZ16.8 million ($16.1 million) for the past financial year, returning to the black after climbing from a loss of $NZ21.5 million ($20.6 million) three years ago as it battled the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes.

An attempt by Suncorp subsidiary Vero NZ in 2017 to acquire Tower for $NZ236.1 million ($212.5 million) was blocked by the New Zealand Commerce Commission and the company has since moved ahead with an overhaul of the group’s operations.

Customer migration to the new platform is set to be completed by December next year, paving the way for legacy systems to be decommissioned.

Tower also announced last week that CIO Peter Muggleston will take up a new role as COO, providing executive oversight for Tower’s claims, underwriting, Pacific and IT business units.