Aviva PLC (LON:AV.) has promoted industry veteran Amanda Blanc as its chief executive from her position as an independent non-executive director.
She is replacing Maurice Tulloch, who is retiring as the FTSE 100-listed group's CEO for family health reasons after only a year in the role and 28 years at the life insurer.
Blanc was appointed to the board in January, 2020, and was previously chief executive of certain divisions at Zurich Insurance Group and at AXA. She has also has held senior positions at Towergate Insurance Brokers and Groupama Insurance Company, having started her career with Commercial Union, which subsequently became part of Aviva, and has also served as Chair of the Association of British Insurers and President of the Chartered Insurance Institute.
In a statement, George Culmer, chairman of Aviva, said: "I would like to thank Maurice for his valuable contribution over many years with Aviva. The Board and I were saddened to hear of the personal reasons behind his desire to step down and we wish him and his family the very best for the future.
"We are delighted that Amanda will be our new CEO. The Board was unanimous in endorsing her appointment. I know she will bring real dynamism to Aviva and re-establish our credentials as a high-performing, innovative and customer-centric business."
Blanc commented: "Aviva is a great company, full of great people, and I'm honoured to be given the opportunity to help shape its future. I want Aviva to be the leader in our industry again and the first choice for our customers and partners. My focus will be on achieving that for the benefit of all of our stakeholders.
"We will look at all our strategic opportunities, and at pace. I have been on the Aviva Board since the start of this year and have a good understanding of where the business has its strengths and what actions we should take across our portfolio."
Blanc will receive a basic annual salary of £1mln and her maximum bonus opportunity will be 200% of salary.
"The appointment of a new CEO will make another round of restructuring at Aviva inevitable, and given the markets lacklustre response to Tulloch’s restructuring, the pressure mount to do something more radical, such as split the company (life vs non-life, or UK vs International), or at least make material divestments," analysts at Shore Capital commented.
"That said, we would note that the company has very valuable capital benefits from the diversification (such as the diversification benefits of having a UK life company with a Canadian non-life company), which may offset or negate any split... The new CEO is coming from outside the company (she only joined the board in January as a non-exec) and can therefore take an independent view of the company with no sacred cows (albeit her background, like Maurice Tulloch, is more nonlife than life insurance)."
The broker added that the main question mark is on the dividend, as previous CEOs cut it when appointed, while "the current 11% yield would suggest the market does not expect the dividend to be continued at the current level".
Shares rose 4% to 285.3p early on Monday.
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