Mark Wilson has put Aviva back in the game – Bottom Line

Julian Harris
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Mark Wilson has slimmed down the insurance giant
When I think of Norwich, three things come to mind – Norwich City, Norwich Union and Alan Partridge. You’ll be relieved to hear that I’m going to spare you any terrible puns based on the latter, but I will dare to make an albeit clumsy connection between the first two.

Aviva, as it is now known, has been through tough times. Prior to the credit crunch its shares were worth around 800p each, yet just over a year ago they were priced at under 300p.

The firm previously known as Norwich Union was simply too fat for its own good, with chief exec Andrew Moss finally stepping down amid the Shareholder Spring of 2012.

In football, it’s somewhat easier to sack your top dog – as City manager Chris Hughton discovered at the end of last season. A year ago, Hughton spent £20m-£30m on eight new players, yet simply ended up with a bloated squad that was relegated.

City need to follow Aviva’s example. Under the leadership of Mark Wilson, the insurance giant is slimming down and smartening up.

Yesterday, it produced an almost model set of results – beating expectations just enough to please investors while maintaining the impression that its forecasts do not set the bar too low.

Wilson was handed a £1.1m bonus for 2013. Pretty dangerous, given how his predecessor was finally booted out over a pay package. Yet CEOs are in one way like footballers – folk don’t always mind the mega-wages, so long as they’re doing a good job. On that note, it’s hard to argue that the new boss isn’t earning his bucks.

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