Andrea Rossi is to step down from his role as chief executive of Axa Investment Managers, the €757bn asset management arm of French insurer Axa.
Mr Rossi, who has served as CEO since 2013, will become a strategic adviser to Gérald Harlin who will become acting CEO.
The reshuffle will add to speculation disagreements over the strategic direction of the asset management unit remain unresolved.
Axa had previously announced at the time of its half-year results in June that the veteran Mr Harlin would retire at the start of next year.
“I am grateful that Gérald has accepted to take up this mission and push back his retirement date,” said Thomas Buberl, the group chief executive.
Mr Harlin, the group deputy CEO, will also take on the role of executive chairman of Axa IM in December.
Takeover proposals of Axa IM were tabled by Natixis and BNP Paribas in 2017 but these approaches were rebuffed by the parent insurance group.
Mr Buberl reiterated today that asset management would remain a “core” activity for the wider Axa group.
The unexpected departure of Mr Rossi caps a challenging time for the French asset manager. Like many active fund houses, Axa IM has suffered large client outflows in recent years, bleeding a net €5.8bn in 2018 and a further €3bn in the first six months of this year.
The company has already made several attempts to revive its fortunes. Last year it embarked on a restructuring that involved around 210 job cuts and the departure of several figures from its management board.
The departing executives included John Porter, global head of fixed income, and Christophe Coquema, head of the client group.