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Aviva CEO Moss Quits As Shareholder Rebellion Gathers Pace

05/08/2012 | 03:02am US/Eastern

("Aviva CEO Moss Quits As Shareholder Rebellion Gathers Pace," at 0637 GMT, misstated the salary the third paragraph. The correct version follows:)

 
 
  By Jessica Hodgson 
  Of  
 

British insurance group Aviva PLC (AV.LN) Tuesday said Chief Executive Officer Andrew Moss would stand down with immediate effect, the latest U.K. CEO to leave amid investor anger over pay.

Moss is the third FTSE 100 CEOs to stand down in recent weeks as a shareholder rebellion over the gap between corporate performance and pay gathers pace. Last week, the chief executives of AstraZeneca PLC (>> AstraZeneca plc) and Trinity Mirror PLC (>> Trinity Mirror plc) also quit after investors challenged their pay.

Moss' departure comes shortly after investors in Aviva rejected the group's remuneration report--and Moss' GBP2.69 million pay packet--only the fourth time this has happened to a FTSE 100 company, and a failed attempt by the company to contain investor ire.

Roughly 54% of shareholders opposed the 2011 pay report in a nonbinding vote last week, at a time of an increasing and more vociferous backlash against what many consider excessive executive pay in the financial sector. The rebuke came even as Aviva said earlier in the week that it would review its pay policy in the face of shareholder pressure.

Aviva said Tuesday that Chairman-Designate John McFarlane would become interim executive deputy chairman with immediate effect and executive chairman from July 1, pending the appointment of a new chief executive.

Aviva's chairman, Colin Sharman, said Tuesday that Moss had approached him with the decision that he felt it was in the best interests of the company for him to step aside

"We should acknowledge the progress that has been achieved under Andrew Moss' leadership," Sharman said in a statement.

"Through the global financial crisis, he led the consolidation of our international presence and the integration of 40 brands into the very powerful single Aviva brand. He reduced the cost base, improved operational performance and more recently began the implementation of the strategic focus, with the sale of RAC, the deconsolidation of Delta Lloyd and a number of overseas disposals."

Nevertheless, Sharman said that McFarlane would undertake a review of Aviva's business to make sure it was in the right business segments and markets.

The U.K. insurer Aviva said a week ago that it would review its remuneration policy in response to mounting shareholder pressure on pay, and that Moss had turned down a proposed 2012 salary increase of 4.8%. His 2011 pay packet was up 8.5% from GBP2.47 million in 2010.

Two major shareholder bodies had previously raised concerns about Aviva's pay.

Pensions & Investment Research Consultants, a shareholder advisory service, recommended that its members vote against the remuneration report. The influential Association of British Insurers, whose members control roughly 12% of the U.K. stock market and which is supporting the government's proposal to make a say on pay binding, asked investors to consider carefully their vote on Aviva executive pay but said it wasn't offering guidance on how shareholders should vote.

- By Jessica Hodgson; Dow Jones Newswires; +44207 8429373; jessica.hodgson@dowjones.com.

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