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Business Comment

Sketch: It's panto time again… and starring a saints and sinners performance

Aviva AGMs are usually like Christmas pantos: they come round once a year, feature heroes and (mostly) villains and the audience always enjoys taking part.

Yesterday's shareholder meeting in London's Barbican centre was more like a group therapy session as the insurer's chairman John McFarlane and new chief executive Mark Wilson assured investors they would not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Both opted for red ties - a sign of good luck in some parts of the world - and left their audience in no doubt their predecessors were to blame for the group's current plight. "A year ago at this meeting you sent Aviva a clear message. You were uncertain about the company's direction, angry about its performance," Mr Wilson said. "I know there is still a sense of impatience. I don't blame you... if patience is a virtue, I think Aviva shareholders are on their way to becoming saints."

Aviva's management may have emerged relatively unscathed but should expect a more theatrical production next time if the share price doesn't improve.