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Denis Kessler, Doctor honoris causa

September 30, 2011

On October 2, the opening session of the 24th Entretiens du Centre Jacques-Cartier will be marked by a convocation ceremony at which seven French public figures will be awarded honorary degrees. The distinction will be conferred on them by six Quebec universities and schools, along with the University of Ottawa. During the ceremony, to be held on the floor of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, HEC Montréal will honour Denis Kessler, President and CEO of SCOR Group.

Mr. Kessler, born in 1952 in Mulhouse, Alsace, is a graduate of HEC Paris, holds a PhD in economics and advanced degrees in economics and social sciences. Since November 2002, he has been the President and CEO of SCOR Group, one of the world’s largest reinsurance firms. In 2010 it had 35 subsidiaries on five continents, and sales of close to 7 billion euros.

In recent months, Mr. Kessler has received two other tributes to his strategic vision and leadership. First of all, in June, he was elected Reinsurance Company CEO of the Year by Reactions magazine, at the Reactions London Market Awards. And in September, Intelligent Insurer magazine awarded him the title of Reinsurance CEO of the Year, at the 2011 Intelligent Insurer Awards. He is recognized as an international leader and innovator in his field, and was elected Industry Personality of the Year in 2008 by the Worldwide Reinsurance Awards jury for his contribution to the insurance and reinsurance industry.

He is highly active in the industry, serving as Chairman of the Fédération française des sociétés d’assurances (FFSA) from 1990 to 2002, with a pause in 1997-1998, when he was Executive Director of the AXA group. As Chairman of the FFSA, he created three research chairs on risk and insurance in 1993. They are now funded by the Fondation du risque, which supports six chairs, including the SCOR Chair on Market Risk and Value Creation. In addition, as Executive Vice-President of the Conseil national du patronat français (now the MEDEF) from 1995 to 1998, he was involved in shaping the reform of the French pension fund.

Before beginning a career in the private sector, Mr. Kessler was a university professor and researcher with the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). He taught economics at the Université de Paris X Nanterre, the Université de Nancy II and the prestigious École des hautes études en sciences sociales, in Paris.  A prolific author, at the time he published or oversaw the publication of 8 books and over 80 articles in different journals.

He is an Officer of the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, and currently President of the Cercle de l’Orchestre de Paris and the Global Reinsurance Forum. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Association de Genève and a member of the strategy council of the Comité européen des assurances. He is a director of BNP Paribas, Bolloré, Dassault Aviation and the Fonds stratégique d’investissement, in France, and Invesco Ltd, in the United States.

The Entretiens Jacques-Cartier, created in 1987, is a major annual event held in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, and once every three years in Quebec. This year, the event includes 29 symposia, to be held in Montréal, Quebec City and Ottawa, from September 29 to October 6. It brings together some 800 speakers and 2,500 academics, decision makers, businesspeople, artists and political figures to discuss economic, socio-political, scientific and cultural issues.


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