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In-house moves: QBE Insurance Group appoints new group general counsel

Rated as one of the world’s top 20 insurance and reinsurance companies, ASX-listed business underwriters QBE Insurance Group have appointed the group general counsel (GC) and company secretary of Australian supermarket Woolworths, Peter Horton, to join in the same role.

After nine years as legal chief at Woolworths, which also has retail and related operations in New Zealand, Hong Kong and China, Horton will take over in June from incumbent Duncan Ramsay who is to retire at the end of June after 20 years with QBE, which is also one of the biggest players in the UK professional indemnity insurance market

During his time at Woolworths, Horton was responsible for the legal, company secretarial, compliance, corporate governance, public liability and share registry functions of the company and was also a member of the management board, where was involved in a number of key initiatives, as well as supervision of M&A activity in Asia, North America and Latin America.

Horton has spent the majority of his career working for significant blue chip companies like ASX and New York Stock Exchange-listed diversified mining and fertiliser company WMC Resources, where he rose from senior lawyer to general manager legal and company secretary during his time from 1993 to 2005.

Prior to that, Horton worked as a corporate lawyer and principal solicitor at Australian BHP Petroleum Pty, which merged with Anglo-Dutch Billiton in 2001 to form mining and petroleum giant BHP Billiton, where he worked on a number of major projects, including joint ventures, management of litigation, contract negotiation and government negotiations.

CMS Cameron McKenna, Mayer Brown and DWF are among 18 firms to have been appointed to QBE’s UK claims panel in 2011, after the insurer cut its roster from 24 firms, with 10 firms appointed to a core panel for England and Wales, three firms appointed for Scotland and Ireland and a further five firms selected for specialist advice.

Camerons, Barlows, RPC, Mayer Brown, Bond Pearce, Berrymans Lace Mawer, Beachcroft, DWF, Mills & Reeve and Plexus Law have all been chosen to sit on the England and Wales panel. Meanwhile, the three firms appointed to the panel for Scotland and Northern Ireland are HBM Sayers, Simpson & Marwick and C&H Jefferson.

John Neal, group chief executive officer, said of Horton’s hire: ‘We are delighted to have someone of Peter’s calibre join our executive team. Peter’s understanding of the regulatory environment and his proven leadership ability in a multinational company will be a great addition to QBE.

‘While we are very pleased to welcome Peter to our team, I also want to acknowledge the contribution of Duncan Ramsay to QBE. We wish Duncan well in his future endeavours.’