8 July 2015News

PartnerRe’s criticisms of Thiele ‘distasteful’: Exor CEO

John Elkann, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Exor, has branded criticisms that Patrick Thiele acted in his own self-interest as “distasteful” and “unfair”.

Thiele, the former CEO of PartnerRe, recently spoke to Bloomberg, recommending that PartnerRe’s shareholders should vote against a planned merger with Axis. He also called the cash offer from Exor a better option.

The board of PartnerRe were quick to retaliate, calling Thiele “self-interested” and stating they were surprised at “his willingness to become an agent for Exor after having first sought to be helpful to the transaction”.

At an investor meeting in New York for PartnerRe shareholders yesterday (July 8, 2015), Elkann said: “The allusions that were made are unfair and distasteful.

“Patrick Theile has built PartnerRe into what it is. The only interest he has is for PartnerRe to be in the right hands and for the employees of PartnerRe to be well treated. The support that Patrick has publicly given to our offer is out of no self-interest. It’s a selfless effort. There’s no agreement with us, there’s no financial incentive. There’s no commitment on our behalf.”

Elkann also confirmed that he had been in conversations with Thiele about ensuring a bright future of the people at PartnerRe.

“He has been an extraordinary leader within the industry. Every shareholder and the board of Partnerre should be grateful to him,” he added.

During the meeting, Elkann also revealed that there was the potential of further acquisitions if Exor ended up acquiring PartnerRe.

“PartnerRe is an important step for us in the industry and we would look at building the business organically and, if the right acquisitions were to come along, we’d look at those,” he said.

He explained that the merger of PartnerRe and Axis Capital would result in redundancies, which he believes may not be the smartest option in a service business.

Elkann said: “We have no calculations as to why we should be reducing employee count. On the contrary, we think the company has a really great employee base and we will be successful, hopefully as we’ve been in other companies, and we’ll be able to grow that headcount.”

When questioned over a potential candidate to serve as CEO, he claimed the people running the business are a very good team which Exor has a lot of respect for. He added that Exor preferred to promote within.

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