Stewart will become chairman-designate from January 1, 2010 and will succeed Margetts with effect from March 1.
Stewart is currently a non-executive director of Telstra Corporation Ltd and was recently appointed a director of the court of the Bank of England. He was chief executive of National Australia Bank from 2004 to 2008, deputy chief executive of Barclays from 2000 to 2003 and group chief executive of Woolwich from 1996 to 2000.
L&G vice-chairman and senior independent director Sir David Walker says: “I am very pleased to welcome John to Legal & General following the board’s unanimous decision to appoint him as Chairman. John is an outstanding candidate.
“The role of chairman of a FTSE 100 financial services firm is a challenging one – Legal & General is very pleased to secure someone who knows UK financial services inside-out and has strong international experience which will be invaluable as the group grows its overseas franchise.”
Stewart says: “I have known and worked with Legal & General for many years, and regard it as one of the crown jewels in UK financial services. The company has huge strengths, including its balance sheet, cash-generative capacity, its strong brand and commitment to customers.
“It has a top-class CEO and management team, and its range of market leading operations with synergy opportunities mean it is strategically well-positioned to deliver profitable growth in the UK and internationally while also fulfilling a broader, socially useful, remit. I look forward to working with the Board and the management team to deliver those prospects to shareholders”
Margetts joined the board of Legal & General in 1996 and has been chairman since February 2000.