The New Zealand-born insurance veteran prepared AIA for its 2010 listing and was credited with successfully steering the Asian firm through the financial crisis in his four-year tenure.
His appointment at struggling Aviva comes six months after shareholders forced out former chief Andrew Moss in May.
The group’s chairman John McFarlane, who has been acting as interim boss, said he was “delighted” to have secured Wilson.
“He has an outstanding track record of leading a major insurer, of transforming its performance and culture, of implementing a growth agenda and of producing significant shareholder value, all of which are essential for Aviva’s success going forward,” McFarlane said.
The move was welcomed in the City yesterday. “This ends uncertainty and means the company can move forward,” Barnard Marcus, an analyst at Oriel Securities, said.