The former head of Australian insurer QBE John Neal will be shortly named as Inga Beale’s replacement as CEO of Lloyd’s, understands.

A former Lloyd’s underwriter, Neal stepped down from his Sydney-based position at QBE in 2017, a post he held for just over five years.

He took the tob job at the Aussie giant in 2012 after half a decade as the firm’s operations boss, based in London. In that role, he said he “rationalised” the group’s European business and introduced new underwriting risk and governance frameworks.

His appointment was ratified at a Lloyd’s Council meeting earlier today following the recommendations of the Lloyd’s Remuneration committee, chaired by former RSA CEO Andy Haste.

Neal, who is in his mid-fifties, will return to his native England to take up the post by the end of the year.

His experience in leading the turnaround of QBE was understood to be a deciding factor in a shortlist of candidates that included Deloitte’s well-regarded head of UK insurance, Clive Buesnel.

His LinkedIn profile said that he also enhanced QBE’s major broker relationships in the UK and international markets.

On Neal’s Linkedin profile, he lists his achievements as integrating Lloyd’s and QBE Insurance’s underwriting interests. He said he also restructured the business into a defined product and distribution matrix and developed and launched QBE’s UK national proposition.

That should stand him in good stead for the top job at Lloyd’s where, as revealed, earlier this week, chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown is looking for a leader with an intimate knowledge of Lloyds, significant international experience and a knack for implementing change.

Neal oversaw a tough period in QBE’s history after he was forced to write down the value of a number of the firm’s earlier acquisitions causing a stock-price crash in 2013 after he succeeded long-serving CEO Frank O’Halloran.

Leading the process on behalf of Lloyd’s was Sainty, Hird Partner Ian Lazarus.

Lloyd’s did not immeaitely respond to a request for comment.