The business on: Otto Thoresen, Chief executive, Aegon UK

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The Independent Online

He's Scandinavian, right?

Don't be confused by the name (which is Norwegian, by the way, and comes from his father, a fisherman), Otto's Scottish. And his shake-up of the life insurance and pension business of Aegon UK (formerly Scottish Equitable), announced yesterday, means that Clive Cowdery's hopes of adding the operation to his "UK super-insurer" will be dashed.

What's Thoresen's plan?

He is switching the company's focus to concentrate on corporate pension schemes and investments for people nearing retirement. The bad news is that this will probably cost about 600 jobs out of the 2,400 staff at Aegon's HQ in Edinburgh and more from offices in rest of the UK (primarily Lytham St Annes, where 670 work).


Quite, but you don't cut costs in a life insurance and pensions business by 25 per cent without some pain, and the cuts will be far less brutal than would have been the case had Mr Cowdery's Resolution got hold of the business.

What's Otto's background?

He got a double First in Maths and statistics at Aberdeen University before training as an actuary with Scottish Equitable (which makes up most of Aegon's UK operation). He left to climb the greasy pole at other companies before returning as a director and eventually replacing David Henderson as chief executive.

He's bright, then. What's he like?

He is approachable, liked by staff and a pretty good manager. He may seem like a stereotypical Scottish actuary but don't hold that against him. He's highly ambitious and sent his son to Fettes, whose old boys include one Tony Blair. Regularly linked to big jobs and has shown a willingness to be ruthless, as yesterday shows.

And outside the office?

He plays golf (they all do in Scotland's financial centre), supports Aberdeen and Manchester United. Does fantasy football with his son (and doesn't like losing). He's a big bloke, but has a personal trainer who puts himself through a gruelling exercise programme before work, and he cycles.