Sarah Thompson, Anthony Macdonald & Jake Mitchell, 2 October 2015

Annual general meeting season is fast approaching and fund managers are bracing for a few surprises as up-for-election directors consider their futures.

First up, Elizabeth Bryan is tipped for the top seat in the boardroom at Insurance Australia Group in the near-term, taking the chairman’s role off former Investec Bank-er and Ernst & Young partner, Brian Schwartz. IAG announced last week that Schwartz would retire, but failed to nominate a new chairman.

To ensure a smooth baton change, Bryan is expected to step down from her role at the head of Caltex Australia’s boardroom table, having waved farewell to major shareholder Chevron over the past year. [Bryan joined the petrol retailer’s board in July 2002].

Bryan is highly-regarded and has a mountain of financial services experience both as a director of Westpac and, as the current deputy chair of IAG, which runs a suite of brands including NRMA, SGIC and SGIO.

Bryan is also a high-flier in the literal sense, holding down the chair of airline Virgin Australia after taking on that role earlier in 2015.

Bryan will take over as chair of IAG from Brian Schwartz who has held down the role since 2010.

She was also managing director of Deutsche Asset Management for six years and has also been knee deep in the superannuation industry and its ever-changing regulations for a long time at what used to be known as the NSW State Superannuation Investment and Management Corp.

Bryan also stretches the brain with her role on the Takeovers Panel, wrestling with tricky investment bankers and lawyers trying to find loopholes as they ram through M&A deals.

Sources said Bryan was very conscious of workload which is why she’s preparing to bow out of the Caltex job.

While the IAG boardroom is working smoothly, the same can’t be said for battling training services firm Ashley Services Group, which has a star turn as a director in former ALP Federal Leader Simon Crean.

He is one of only four directors on the Ashley board, the others being Peter Turner, managing director Ross Shrimpton, and Vincent Fayad.

Ashley went into a trading halt on Thursday afternoon pending another profit downgrade and flagging a big boardroom reshuffle.

Ashley was a golden-child temporarily in 2014 in an ASX float with an issue price of $1.60 but has come back to earth with a thud as questions over education subsidies and allegations of a misleading prospectus attract a potential class action.

Ashley shares are sitting at 60¢.

Finally, UBS has lured equity capital markets specialist Steve Drummond from Credit Suisse, sources told Street Talk.

Drummond joined CS in 2010, and prior to that, was a lawyer at Freehills for five years.

Extracted in full from the Australian Financial Review.

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