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Aviva PLC appoints new CEO

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The remaking of Aviva PLC continues with the appointment of Mark Wilson as chief executive officer. He replaces chairman John McFarlane who took over as interim CEO when Andrew Moss resigned in the spring over shareholder questions about executive pay.

Wilson, below right, will join the board of the Aviva PLC on December 1 and become CEO on January 1. His base annual salary is set at £980,000 with the opportunity to earn a bonus of up to 150 percent of salary based on “strict performance conditions,” according to a company statement.

From 2006 and 2010, Wilson was CEO and president of AIA Group, the fifth largest insurance group in the world. Prior to that, he held executives positions with AXA China Region Limited and AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Limited. Since leaving AIA, Wilson, a native of New Zealand, had worked in the private equity sphere with Blackstone and other private equity firms, according to the company.

“Mark has operated in both developed and emerging markets. At AIA, Mark faced similar challenges to Aviva today. He navigated the company through the global financial crisis, narrowed the focus of the company, sold non-core businesses, turned round non-performing segments, and reduced risks and costs,” said McFarlane in a statement.

Since the spring, Aviva PLC has embarked on a similar course to reduce expenses and shed non-core assets that include the firm’s U.S. arm, Aviva USA. The company recently confirmed that it was in talks to sell that unit, with a published report in the Telegraph putting Apollo and Guggenheim Partners in the lead to acquire it. The company further confirmed any sale would likely be consummated below book value.

Aviva USA is a leader in the domestic indexed annuity business. According AnnuitySpecs.com’s Q3 report, Aviva USA’s indexed annuity production booked a quarterly drop of 6 percent, tumbling from $1.113 billion in the second quarter to $1.045 billion in the third. On a year-over-year basis, sales increased from $3.272 billion in the first nine months of 2011 to $3.314 billion in the same period this year, a 1.6 percent increase.

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