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IAG appoints Elizabeth Bryan as chairwoman

Australia's biggest insurer, IAG, has appointed Virgin Australia chairwoman Elizabeth Bryan to lead its board, replacing Brian Schwartz who is retiring from the $12.6 billion company.

Ms Bryan, who became IAG's deputy chair last June, will step up into the new role on March 31.

Mr Schwartz will vacate the top seat at IAG's board table following seven years as chairman and 11 at the company. He signalled his retirement at the group's annual general meeting last October. 

"I am honoured to have led IAG and I am pleased to have someone of Elizabeth's calibre succeed me as chairman," Mr Schwartz said on Tuesday.

"Her depth of experience in leading some of Australia's most successful companies will be extremely valuable to IAG and its management team. I know I am leaving the company in capable hands." 

The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk first revealed Ms Bryan's move to step down from fuel refiner Caltex's board last October to take on the role of chairwoman at IAG. 

Under Mr Schwartz's watch, IAG struck several high-profile deals, including the $1.85 billion acquisition of Wesfarmers' insurance underwriting unit, and a 20 per cent quota share business arrangement with US giant Berkshire Hathaway. 

"Brian has contributed significantly to the IAG that we see today, and to the iconic businesses which play a critical role in helping people and communities in times of need," Ms Bryan said. 

Ms Bryan is also a director of Westpac Banking Corp and president of charity YWCA NSW.