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Irish Life CEO Delays Exit Amid Revived Great-West Takeover Bid

January 07, 2013

Irish Life Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Kevin Murphy postponed his plans to retire at the end of 2012 as the government revived talks to sell the state-owned insurer to Canada’s Great-West Lifeco Inc. (GWO)

Murphy, 61, agreed to delay stepping down “for some months pending the appointment of a successor,” said Ray Gordon, a spokesman for the company, in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News. “That matter is expected to be resolved in the coming months,” he said, declining to comment on the sale process.

Gerry Hassett, 47, Irish Life Retail CEO, is the only internal candidate to succeed Murphy, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified as the talks are private. Gordon declined to comment and Hassett was not available for comment.

Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Great-West, owner of Boston-based Putnam Investments, was set to acquire Ireland’s largest life and pensions company in 2011 before pulling out in November that year amid concerns about the euro-area debt crisis. The Irish government set a 1.3 billion-euro ($1.7 billion) price on Irish Life as it re-opened talks with Great-West late last year, according to three people familiar with the matter.

An accord may be reached this quarter, said the people, as the state seeks to lower its 64 billion-euro bill for rescuing the nation’s financial system over the past four years.

Irish Finance Ministry officials and Marlene Klassen, a spokeswoman for Great-West, declined to comment on the matter.

The Irish government bought Irish Life for 1.3 billion euros in June from debt-laden lender Irish Life & Permanent Plc, which was subsequently renamed Permanent TSB Group Holdings Plc. Murphy, who became IL&P’s CEO in June 2009, had announced his retirement in the same month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Brennan in Dublin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at

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