Aviva-derci as pay row exec leaves insurer

TREVOR Matthews, the Aviva executive whose £4m “golden hello” helped provoke a brutal pay row at the insurer, is to leave the company after just 14 months, it was revealed yesterday.

His departure is part of the first board shake-up under the group’s new chief executive Mark Wilson, who has inherited a company in the process of a radical turnaround plan.

Matthews joined the group as chief executive of Aviva UK in December 2011 but his pay package angered investors from the start. In addition to a salary of £720,000 Matthews received a one-off £470,000 cash payment, £2m in share options and the prospect of £1.6m in performance-related incentives.

Shareholders who had suffered years of underperformance at insurer were further upset when it was revealed Matthews, the former head of Friends Life, received a £45,000 year-end bonus after just one month in the role – and that Aviva paid for the £35,000 legal costs he ran up during contract negotiations.

Matthews, who will step down at May’s AGM, was hired by former chief executive Andrew Moss. Moss’s own Aviva career ended in last year’s “shareholder spring” when a majority of investors voted against the company’s executive pay settlement.

As part of yesterday’s board shake-up David McMillan has been appointed chief executive of Aviva Europe and former AIA executive Nick Amin is joining the business as group transformation director.

Aviva’s shares have rebounded since last summer when chairman John McFarlane launched a root-and-branch review of the business. It has already led to the sale of more than a dozen underperforming and non-core units.

WHO ELSE HAS LEFT AVIVA IN THE LAST YEAR?

ANDREW MOSS
WAS: CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Moss resigned in May after five years as CEO, during which the share price fell 60 per cent. He received a £1.5m payoff, including a year’s salary, £300,000 to waive bonus claims and shares worth £277,000 at yesterday’s prices.

RICHARD HOSKINS
WAS: CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF AVIVA NORTH AMERICA
Hoskins’ departure in early 2012 was part of a plan to remove management levels and cut costs. But it also presaged Aviva’s decision to sell its troubled US business, a deal that eventually went through for £1.1bn in December.

IGAL MAYER
WAS: CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF AVIVA EUROPE
The well-respected Canadian Igal Mayer left the firm last April after 23 years with the group. He was on the board for just over a year during which he received a £2.8m pay package and a £200,000pa housing allowance.

ALAIN DROMER
WAS: CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF AVIVA INVESTORS
Dromer left Aviva Investors, the group’s investment management arm, last year after five years with the business. It came after he announced a restructuring that saw 12 per cent of its workforce – 160 people – leave the firm.