M&G chairman Mike Evans steps down temporarily due to stress

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The chairman of M&G, the London-listed savings and investment group, has taken a temporary leave of absence due to a stress-related illness.

Mike Evans was appointed in October 2018 as chairman of M&G ahead of the demerger of the FTSE 100 listed company from its parent Prudential, the insurer. M&G oversees assets of £339bn.

He will be replaced on an interim basis by Fiona Clutterbuck, chair of Paragon Banking Group, who also serves as the senior independent director on the board of M&G.

“Mike Evans is taking a temporary leave of absence from his duties due to a stress-related illness. Fiona Clutterbuck, the senior independent director, will take on the role of interim chair,” said M&G in a brief statement released to the stock exchange on Monday.

Mr Evans has also served in the past as chairman of Hargreaves Lansdown, the UK’s largest investment platform, and ZPG, the real estate company. No date was given for his likely return.

“Fiona Clutterbuck is very experienced and M&G is in safe hands,” said Alan Devlin, an analyst at Shore Capital.

Companies across the UK are braced for a potential increase in mental health problems among senior executives and employees due to increased stress, anxiety and depression induced by remote working during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We learned that people’s health is much more important than anything else in 2020,” said Mr Devlin.

The unrelenting pace of City working is increasingly seen as potentially damaging to mental health but only a few top executives have admitted publicly to suffering problems.

António Horta-Osório, then chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, took a period of leave in 2011 because of stress-related insomnia. Hector Sants stepped down from his job as Barclays’ regulatory affairs chief after taking leave because of “exhaustion and stress” in 2013.

M&G’s share price fell 1 per cent on Monday to 196.5p, in line with the decline in the FTSE 100.

The shares have dropped 12.7 per cent since the demerger from Prudential was completed in October 2019, after a liquidity crunch at M&G’s property fund and an acceleration of retail investor outflows sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Clare Thompson, chair of M&G’s audit committee, will take on the role of interim senior independent director, while Mr Evans is on leave.

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