James Moore: The man behind Aviva's pay deals must be next to go

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The Independent Online

Last week, Andrew Moss was giving up his pay rise. This week it's his job. The so-called "Shareholder Spring" has claimed its first scalp. Scalp, perhaps, but Mr Moss is no victim. Aviva's now former chief executive will depart with a severance package of £1.75m, despite having presided over a fall in share price of around 60 per cent.

Immediately after the announcement, Aviva's shares shot up, adding as much as £400m of value to the company, which tells you all you need to know really.

But by the end of the day that had nearly all evaporated, a reflection of the difficulty Aviva faces. Endless management reshuffles have left it in some disarray, and while Mr Moss belatedly acted to rationalise its portfolio – selling lots of small businesses in places where they never stood much of a chance – it still has a mountain to climb, not least as a result of its exposure to the eurozone.

The energetic, incoming chairman, John McFarlane, will take the reins on an interim basis, having issued a statement long on buzzwords but short on specifics. The question of who could take over long term is rather more cloudy.

Trevor Matthews is handicapped by the fact that his £2.2m golden hello helped stoke the fires that led to Mr Moss's departure.

He has also been something of a butterfly, flitting from Standard Life to Friends Provident and now to Aviva, while picking up more pay cheques than plaudits.

At 46, finance director Pat Regan has youth on his side and will work closely with Mr McFarlane. But making the bean-counter the boss is slightly frowned upon in governance circles and the last time Aviva did it, it ended up with Mr Moss.

The more tantalising possibility is whether Andy Haste could be tempted out of the wilderness. He is renowned for pulling Royal Sun Alliance out of a death spiral but his attempt to buy Aviva's general insurance business for a huge premium while there helped to focus attention on Aviva's problems. His appointment would therefore be contentious to say the least.

What Aviva must do before hiring any of them is replace Scott Wheway as chairman of the remuneration committee. He passed the pay package for Mr Moss that has caused such a furore. And then he tried to defend it. He cannot be allowed to make Aviva's new chief rich while shareholders continue to be made poor.