SOURCE: Institutional Investor

Institutional Investor

June 09, 2009 23:30 ET

Institutional Investor Unveils Europe's Best CEOs

Money Managers Say CEOs of AXA, SABMiller Are Among Europe's Best

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - June 9, 2009) - In this challenging economic environment, many European chief executives are taking a knife to their operations to boost efficiency. But according to participants in Institutional Investor's 2009 ranking of Europe's Best CEOs, the region's best business leaders are also taking an active approach to the crisis, stepping up their dialogues with shareholders and looking for new growth areas.

The complete ranking can be found on our web site, www.iimagazine.com.

Henri de Castries, head of AXA and the top-ranked executive in the Insurance sector, discovered anew the importance of maintaining close contact with shareholders when his company's stock got pounded in March after rival American International Group reported a record loss of $62 billion.

There was not much de Castries could do except pick up the phone or get on a plane and talk to investors and analysts and emphasize that the Paris-based AXA, Europe's second-largest insurer, had avoided the derivatives that undermined AIG and that its underlying insurance business was performing well.

"If we had forgotten it, the crisis is also showing us that communication in hard times is essential -- communication with staff, with clients and with investors," he says.

Ernest (Graham) Mackay, CEO of London-based brewer SABMiller and the No. 1 CEO in the Beverages sector, says he had to start looking after his wholesalers around the world. Many were no longer able to get bank financing because of the credit crunch, so Mackay decided to give them loans. "If our products don't get to the market, that wholesaler goes out of business," he says.

Institutional Investor's ranking of Europe's Best CEOs is based on the responses of more than 450 research analysts and portfolio managers at some 290 leading money management firms with combined assets of $3.1 trillion in European equities.

Winners in 27 industry sectors are being announced over a two-day period, beginning June 10, on our Web site, www.iimagazine.com.

For more information about this ranking, please contact Michele Bickford at mbickford@iiresearchgroup.com or (212) 224-3360.

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