Sunday 13 June 2021 12:52 pm

Shakeup at Aviva days after activist investor sticks head above parapet

Aviva is set to sack its top fund managers in a radical cost-cutting plan, according to reports.

The insurance giant is planning to fire 10 equity managers from its asset management arm Aviva Investors, the Mail on Sunday reported.

David Cumming, chief investment officer for equities, has left the FTSE 100 firm, while head of global equities Mikhail Zverev is among the fund managers set to be ousted.

It comes days after Cevian Capital — Europe’s largest activist investor — was revealed to have built up a five per cent stake in Aviva.

The Swedish investment firm, which has $16bn of assets under management, said Aviva should slash costs and return £5bn to shareholders.

Aviva’s share price, however, is already up around 40 per cent on the year and disposals of a host of international divisions, one of Cevian’s demands, are already underway.

Cevian, which also took a stake in Pearson last year, wants the company to cut at least £500m of costs by 2023.

The activist began building its stake weeks after Amanda Blanc took over as chief executive of the FTSE 100 company last year.

Blanc has been withdrawing Aviva from overseas markets in Europe and Asia to focus on the business’ core markets in the UK, Ireland and Canada.

It is understood Cevian is supportive of Blanc and Aviva’s management team.

However, the firings will raise questions about the extent of the activist investor’s influence over the company.

They also cast doubts over Aviva’s future status in the global asset management market. Aviva Investors will be left with 25 fund managers following the departures.

Aviva Investors said it was in the process of consulting with the affected fund managers, adding that its aim was to docs on popular funds such as UK and US equities and sustainable investments based on climate change.