Aviva CEO Wilson to leave as board seeks to revive sagging shares

LONDON (Reuters) – Aviva (AV.L) CEO Mark Wilson has agreed to step down from his role after a sweeping restructuring of the British insurer during six years at the helm failed to translate into improved shareholder returns.

FILE PHOTO: Mark Wilson CEO of Aviva arrives at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Wilson will be replaced temporarily by Chairman Adrian Montague while a permanent successor is appointed, a task the company said on Tuesday it aimed to complete within the next four months after assessing internal and external candidates.

Wilson will remain at the group until April to help with the transition. Aiding Montague will be a “Chairman’s Committee” of Andy Briggs, CEO of UK Insurance, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Stoddard and Maurice Tulloch, CEO, International Insurance.

“There is much further to go in accelerating our strategic development and enhancing shareholder value. We have agreed with Mark this is the right time for a new leader to ensure Aviva delivers to its full potential,” Montague said.

During his time at Aviva, Wilson led the company’s 5.6 billion pound ($7.33 billion) takeover of Friends Life in 2016 in the sector’s biggest acquisition in more than a decade.

The money-spinning deal helped increase the company’s assets under management to more than 300 billion pounds.

He also oversaw company’s exit from a number of markets, falling from 28 markets to 14, as well as increasing operating profit and ramping up investment on technology.

Despite the restructuring, though, Aviva’s share price has underwhelmed. It is down 8.2 percent in the year to date, lagging a 6 percent decline in the FTSE 100 .FTSE, and around 8 percent below its level at the start of 2016.

Separately, Aviva said it continued to perform well and remains on track to deliver operating earnings per share growth of greater than 5 percent in 2018 and to achieve a dividend payout ratio of 55-60 percent of operating earnings per share by 2020.

Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Sinead Cruise and Jason Neely

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