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Robert Leary to Join Olayan Group as Global CEO

The Olayan Group has named a new chief executive officer to head its global operations.  He is Robert G. Leary, a former top executive at TIAA and its subsidiary, Nuveen.

Mr. Leary’s immediate past position was CEO of Nuveen, a U.S.-based investment management firm that was acquired in 2014 by TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund), now known as TIAA.  Mr. Leary had joined TIAA-CREF in 2013 and was instrumental in the acquisition and invigoration of Nuveen as well as its integration with TIAA’s pre-existing asset management business.

Mr. Leary began his career as a lawyer for White & Case in New York and in 1989 opened that firm’s office in Saudi Arabia, where it still has an active presence.  He then moved into the financial services arena with J.P. Morgan & Co., with AIG Financial Products, and as CEO of ING Investment Management Americas and ING Insurance U.S.  Mr. Leary serves on the board of Intact Financial Corporation, a major insurer publicly listed in Canada.  He also serves on the board of the nonprofit AmeriCares, a global health and disaster relief organization.  Mr. Leary holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Union College and a law degree from Fordham University, both located in New York State.

Mr. Leary takes over from Aziz D. Syriani, a long-serving and highly esteemed senior executive of The Olayan Group.  Mr. Syriani joined the Group in 1976, became Group president in 1978, and assumed the CEO title in in 2002 following the passing of the founder, Suliman S. Olayan.  Mr. Syriani has chaired the Group’s Corporate Board since 2013 and will continue to do so.  He will also work closely with Mr. Leary to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Speaking for the Corporate Board, Director Khaled Olayan said:

“After a concerted international search, we have found in Rob Leary a talented professional who appreciates our history, will fit in well with our culture, and has the necessary skills and experience to guide us forward.

“We also are profoundly fortunate that we continue to avail ourselves of Aziz Syriani’s invaluable experience, wisdom, generosity, and good humor.

“It is auspicious that this key leadership transition is occurring in 2017, the 70th Anniversary of The Olayan Group.”

The search for a CEO was led by Timothy P. Smucker, an independent director who chairs the Human Resources Committee of The Olayan Group’s Corporate Board.  In addition to Messrs. Olayan, Syriani, and Smucker, the other members of the board are Hutham S. Olayan, Lubna S. Olayan, and independent directors Erik Brenninkmeijer and John Jeffry Louis III.