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A fully Frank(ed) farewell at QBE

It’s the end of an era at QBE Insurance (ASX: QBE) with Frank O’Halloran putting away his actuarial tables after 36 years with the company and over 14 years as CEO.

Alongside the likes of Brambles (ASX: BXB) and Cochlear (ASX: COH), QBE has been one of a select few Australian businesses to successfully transform into a truly global business. With operations in 52 countries including significant USA and European operations it is an impressive beast.

O’Halloran has overseen most of this global expansion via an intense growth by acquisition strategy. Unlike National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB) and its questionable forays into the USA and the UK, O’Halloran has, on the whole, managed to steer the QBE ship safely through the overseas ‘acquisition minefield’.

The recent four page release outlining O’Halloran’s retirement shed some light on the remuneration bill that QBE shareholders are up for. While we will have to wait a few years (for options and rights to vest) to know the exact tally, all up it looks to be well north of $7m. Not a bad golden handshake on top of the $23 million salary he has received in just the last 4 years alone. (No doubt Frank thought twice before giving up his day job!)

Most shareholders who purchased shares post October 2004 are likely to be underwater (excluding dividends) on their investment, so the 2013 AGM (scheduled for March 27) where they will vote on a $2.3 million portion of the golden handshake could make for an interesting affair.

However, well before we need turn our attention to counting the votes, over the next week all the major domestic insurers will report including Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG) and Suncorp Group (ASX: SUN). This will provide important insight into just how the insurance market is faring and progressing at pushing through higher premiums.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur owns shares in QBE. The Motley Fool‘s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. 

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