Discovery building in Sandton. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/SYDNEY SESHIBEDI
Discovery building in Sandton. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/SYDNEY SESHIBEDI

The appointment of HSBC Holdings chair Mark Tucker as chair of Discovery will benefit the company’s growth plans as it looks to venture into new markets, Discovery said on Thursday.

Tucker will replace Monty Hilkowitz, Discovery’s long-serving chair, who will retire at the end of February. Discovery said the appointment of Tucker, who chairs Europe’s largest bank by assets, is vital.

“His succession to the board is seen as critical and timely given that Discovery’s global expansion into different markets via key partnerships creates considerable opportunity. The board believes that Mr Tucker’s substantial global and institution experience will be hugely valuable to the group in this expansion,” Discovery said.

Between 2010 and 2017 Tucker, who is also an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was CEO of life insurance group AIA.

“He led its record-breaking initial public offering in Hong Kong in October 2010. AIA is today the second-largest life insurance company in the world and the world’s largest, independent publicly-listed pan-Asian life insurance group,” Discovery said.

From 2005 to 2009, Tucker — an associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales — was CEO of insurer Prudential. He has previously served on the boards of Goldman Sachs Group. 

Hilkowitz, a former MD of Liberty Life, has been a non-executive director of Discovery since April 2002 and has been chair since January 2008.

“During his chairmanship, Discovery has grown considerably, launching three new businesses, concluding five joint ventures and growing its client base from 2.5-million in three markets to 18-million members in 20 markets,” the company said.

Discovery shares were down 2.84% to R149.19 on Thursday.