Jackson National Life Insurance Company has appointed Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Mike Wells as the new president and chief executive officer.

Wells will succeed Clark Manning, who will step down as CEO at the end of 2010. Manning will serve as chairman of parent company Prudential plc’s U.S. operations until April 30, 2011, at which time he will enter into an advisory role that will continue until the end of 2011. Wells will join the Prudential Board as an executive director in January 2011.

“I look forward to assuming the leadership of this great organization and continuing the strong legacy that Clark has established at Jackson,” Wells said in a statement. “Clark has admirably led Jackson to its current strong position in the market and I am excited to build upon that success. I view my appointment as an endorsement of the entire Jackson senior management team and the profitable growth we have been able to achieve together.”

Prudential plc Group Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam said Wells has a long and proven career at Jackson across all of the company’s U.S. operations, and was identified as the appropriate successor to Manning some time ago.

“I am sorry to see Clark step down, but respect his decision and want to thank him for his outstanding contribution to the Group,” said Thiam. “He ensured a proven successor was in place to lead the organization to the next level and I am very pleased that we will be able to benefit from Clark’s experience and knowledge through his advisory role.”

During his 15 years with the company, Manning served as Jackson's chief actuary and chief operating officer, and was the head of Prudential plc’s U.S. business for the past nine years. Having assumed the CEO role in 2001 during a significant downturn in the market, Manning positioned Jackson well during the market recovery that followed, as well as throughout the most recent financial crisis.

“Choosing a time to step down is never easy,” Manning said. “Having navigated the company successfully through the past two years of financial upheaval in the markets and delivering exceptionally strong results, I feel that I have achieved what I wanted to do and now is the right time to pass over the reins to Mike.”

The East Lansing, Mich.-based company has $94 billion in assets.