Keith Satchell, Friends Provident's chief executive of 10 years, is to hand the reins to the insurer's finance director when he retires next year.

Mr Satchell, who has been group chief executive since June 1, 1997, announced his plans to retire from the UK-based company in the first half of next year. The company’s board of directors has appointed Philip Moore, currently the group finance director, to succeed him.

The transition is set to take place in the first half of 2007, but a date is yet to be set and the two men will continue in their existing roles until that time, but Mr Moore’s current job as group finance director will be left vacant.

Commenting on his retirement at 55, Mr Satchell said: 2007 will be the right time for me personally to move on and I shall not be seeking another executive role. The company is in great shape and has had a strong start to 2006. Philip is extremely talented and will lead the Friends Provident Group to further success in the future. However, until the date of my retirement I am very much in post and I remain totally committed and enthusiastic.

We remain confident of continued momentum for the Friends Provident Group and a full update on the progress of the Group will be given at Interim Results on August 8, 2006, he added.