Rob Adams will return to his role as Challenger Wealth Management’s chief executive following the sudden resignation yesterday of Chris Cuffe.

Cuffe will officially step down from his role on June 30, 2006, but has committed to stay on at Challenger on a part-time basis before joining micro-enterprise development agency, Opportunity International Australia as investment service director. The role was created especially for Cuffe, who will lead the development of Opportunity’s global investment strategy and manage micro-finance investments in select Asian and African countries. He will also assist with raising investment capital and managing strategic partnerships. In mid-2004, Cuffe stepped down as Challenger Group chief executive and was replaced by JP Morgan’s Mike Tilley, a close friend of the late Kerry Packer. Cuffe was then appointed head of wealth management, a position then held by Adams, who then became deputy chief executive. According to Tilley, the transition of responsibilities to Adams is expected to “go very smoothly”. Prior to joining Challenger in 2003, Adams was chief executive of Colonial First State’s UK investment management business. He followed Cuffe, who received a $33 million payout after quitting as managing director of Colonial First State Investments on December 31, 2002, across to Challenger along with a string other executives including Tim Foster, CFS chief financial officer; Deborah Barr, head of distribution services; Jo Wagstaff, general manager of marketing and client services; and Hayden King, general manager of administration and operations. Yesterday, Foster also announced his resignation and will be replaced by Paul Rogan, the newly appointed chief financial officer of Challenger’s life business. Rogan, who joined Challenger in November from NAB, will take on responsibility for treasury, credit, capital and investment portfolio services. Foster is the latest ex-CFS staffer to depart Challenger, following the loss of Barr and Wagstaff in 2005. Foster will join HBOS Australia next month. The new position of Group deputy chief executive has also been created to free Tilley up to focus on “key strategic and distribution opportunities” within Challenger’s three businesses: life, wholesale finance, and wealth management and distribution. Dominic Stevens, currently executive general manager of capital risk and strategy has been appointed group deputy managing director. Cuffe and Adams were unavailable for comment.

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