QBE makes first group GC change in two decades

Insurance group QBE has turned to Australian supermarket chain Woolworths for its new group general counsel, hiring Peter Horton to succeed incumbent Duncan Ramsay who is leaving the organisation after 21 years. 

Horton will join the insurance group’s Sydney headquarters on 9 June after a nine-year tenure as Woolworths GC and company secretary. He will also take on the role as QBE group’s company secretary.

Before joining Woolworths Horton had spent a significant part of his in-house legal career at blue-chip companies in the mining sector, including stints at WWC Resources and BHP Petroleum.

“Peter’s understanding of the regulatory environment and his proven leadership ability in a multinational company will be a great addition to QBE,” said QBE group chief executive John Neal.

Incumbent Ramsay joined the group as GC in 1993 and took on the company secretary role from 2001. Before joining QBE, he practised at legacy Freehills in Sydney for seven years.

In North America, the insurance group has also appointed a new regional chief legal officer Jose Ramon Gonzalez, who joined from Torus Insurance where he held the GC post. He will be based in New York.

In Europe, the insurance group has just revamped its roster of external advisers for its European operations and created two distinct panels for the first time (23 May 2014).

The core panel, which handles a variety of work including employment, data protection, corporate, and regulatory matters, consists of DAC Beachcroft, Mayer Brown, Norton Rose Fulbright and RPC.  Added to this is a strategic panel, on which Norton Rose Fulbright, Linklaters and Slaughter and May have won places. They will advise on transactions that are of strategic importance to the insurer.

The panel review was conducted under the leadership of European operations general counsel Esther Felton. The new rosters supersede the old single panel, which was formed in 2010.