Axa rejigs UK insurance as its chief exits

AXA UK Insurance chief executive, Philippe Maso, has stepped down from his role after two years following a strategic review that will see the company reorganise into two distinct business units.

Axa said one unit will focus on commercial business with the other focusing on consumer business.

It said the change would give it a “sharper market focus and closer alignment to customer needs.”

Each business will be headed by a new chief executive, with their own management teams, who will take direct responsibility for profitability and report to Axa UK group chief executive, Paul Evans.

Maso is believed to be in negotiations about his future within the Axa Group. City A.M. understands he was less than enthusiastic about taking over one of the chief executive roles having been in charge of both the commercial and personal insurance businesses until recently.

John O’Neill, currently chief executive of Axa Ireland, will oversee the setting up of the new businesses and will lead the commercial insurance team on an interim basis while Axa searches for a permanent CEO.

Steve Hardy, currently managing director of Axa Direct will take over the new role of chief executive of the consumer business and will join the Axa UK executive committee.

Hardy was a founding director of Swiftcover and was appointed managing director of Axa Direct after its acquisition of the online insurer in 2007. His appointment, along with the appointment of the new chief executive of the commercial business, is subject to approval from the Financial Services Authority.

Evans said: “I would firstly like to thank Philippe for his vast contribution to Axa during his time in the UK and wish him well for the future. Moving to this structure will give our people who are closer to our markets a greater sense of empowerment and accountability, which will result in us being better placed to respond to market challenges as well as distributor and customer needs. As our portfolio in the UK is now a number of specialist businesses, this change brings the insurance business in line with the rest of our UK operations.”