Former AIA boss takes Aviva helm

Aviva has ended months of speculation by appointing Mark Wilson, below, as its new chief executive.

The insurer said the former AIA boss will join the company on 1 January, when executive chairman John McFarlane will revert to being Aviva's chairman.

The decision is a blow to the group's highly rated finance director Pat Regan, who was in the running but could now leave for a rival over the next few months.

Aviva has been in the market for a new chief executive since May when Andrew Moss was forced to quit after an embarrassing shareholder revolt at the group's AGM.

Investors were critical of Mr Moss with 58 per cent of shareholders failing to back the group's executive pay.

Mr McFarlane said: "Mark has operated in both developed and emerging markets. At AIA, he faced similar challenges to Aviva today. He navigated the company through the global financial crisis, narrowed the focus of the company, sold non-core businesses, turned round non-performing segments, and reduced risks and costs.

"From that foundation he implemented a successful revenue growth strategy," he added.

Mr Wilson has been handed a pay deal of up to £5.4m, but no "golden hello" like those given to other recent recruits at the company.

The 46-year-old Kiwi, who has 25 years of experience in the sector, will now oversee the sale (or winding-down) of 16 of Aviva's 58 businesses such as its US arm, which is expected to be sold to Guggenheim Partners in coming weeks.