Simon English: Moss digs the garden but Thiam reaps rewards

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The Independent Online

Outlook When Andrew Moss has nightmares, do they prominently feature Tidjane Thiam?

Mr Thiam was the boss of Aviva's European arm between 2002 and 2008, before decamping to run arch-rival Prudential (with considerable success, a botched bid for AIA aside). As such he was significantly responsible for Aviva making a gigantic bet on the eurozone just before the eurozone became a disaster zone.

When he pitched up at the Pru, Mr Thiam decided to make Asia, not Europe, the focus for his new employer's growth prospects. So far, that looks like a masterstroke. Aviva shares have halved in the last five years, while Pru's are about where they were, some ups and downs along the way. Mr Moss quit abruptly this week, of course, as complaints about the disconnect between his pay and the insurer's performance left his position as untenable.

There's highly unlikely to be any protest whatsoever about Mr Thiam's pay – first-quarter results out yesterday show decent profits everywhere, a reassuringly sturdy balance sheet and hope of strong dividend payments to come.

Mr Moss might be tempted, in the long brooding hours he has spare to pace about his garden, to wonder if Mr Thiam was a Pru spy all along, sent to wrongfoot him, to see that his career would be remembered as a failure while his enemies' reputation soared.