AMP Ltd has announced that David Murray has resigned as chairman and has stepped down from the group’s board, effective immediately.
Mr Murray has been replaced by non-executive director Debra Hazelton, effective immediately.
Boe Pahari will also step down as AMP Capital CEO, effective immediately, but will resume his previous role as global head and managing partner at AMP Capital.
AMP Ltd CEO Francesco De Ferrari will temporarily assume direct leadership of the AMP Capital business until a permanent replacement has been found.
Moreover, AMP has announced that in lieu of Mr Murray’s departure, John Fraser has also decided to resign as a non-executive director on the AMP Ltd board and as chairman and non-executive director on the AMP Capital Holdings Ltd board.
These changes have come in response to backlash from AMP shareholders, which flagged concerns in July regarding the board’s appointment of Mr Pahari as AMP Capital CEO under the leadership of Mr Murray.
Shareholders criticised AMP for elevating Mr Pahari to a leadership role after penalising the outgoing executive in 2017 for breaches of the group’s code of conduct in relation to sexual harassment allegations involving a former colleague.
Last week, AMP revealed that it could be set to release findings from its investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Mr Pahari.
Following his resignation as chairman, Mr Murray said the leadership changes would enable group CEO Francesco De Ferrari to advance AMP Ltd’s strategy “without distractions”.
However, Mr Murray defended the group’s handling of the matter and its subsequent appointment of Mr Pahari as AMP Capital CEO.
“The board has made it clear that it has always treated the complaint against Mr Pahari seriously,” he said.
“My view remains that it was dealt with appropriately in 2017 and Mr Pahari was penalised accordingly. However, it is clear to me that, although there is considerable support for our strategy, some shareholders did not consider Mr Pahari’s promotion to AMP Capital CEO to be appropriate.
“Although the board’s decision on the appointment was unanimous, my decision to leave reflects my role and accountability as chairman of the board and the need to protect continuity of management, the strategy and, to the extent possible, the board.”
Incoming AMP chairman Ms Hazelton thanked Mr Murray and Mr Fraser for their service to the group.
“On behalf of the board, I would like to acknowledge David Murray’s leadership of the AMP board over the past two years as the business has tackled critical and highly complex challenges in AMP’s transformation program,” she said.
“We would like to thank both David and John for their professionalism, dedication and commitment to AMP.”
She added: “Under my leadership, the board will focus on working with Francesco and his leadership team to deliver long-term value for our shareholders and clients by executing the transformation strategy.
“I am determined to restore the trust and confidence of our clients, shareholders and employees.”
[Related: AMP to publish harassment report]