Aviva chief shows faith with £480,000 share purchase

Aviva's chief executive, Mark Wilson, has put his money where his mouth is by buying almost £500,000-worth of shares in the troubled insurer.

The 46-year-old risked not only his reputation but his fortune on the under-fire group, which last week posted a £3bn loss, a 44 per cent dividend cut and the scrapping of bonuses for senior directors.

Mr Wilson acquired 150,000 shares at 321.113p each, according to a regulatory filing, worth £481,667.

The former AIA boss has vowed to restore the fortunes of Aviva following years of underperformance under its previous chief executive, Andrew Moss, who resigned last May.

Mr Wilson has already claimed that the group has "not lived up to its potential" and has "disappointed shareholders" over the past few years. Although he only joined the company in January, he finds himself under pressure due to its poor share price performance, down 13 per cent so far this year.

"I joined Aviva because I believe there is significant potential to be unlocked," he said last week. "This is a turnaround story. It is clear to me that the company has not articulated why investors should buy or hold Aviva shares."

Aviva parted company with Mr Moss following an investor backlash at the annual meeting lasy year. He was criticised for repeatedly changing its strategy while shares tumbled. Since then, the insurer has sold businesses and put others on the block to slim its structure.

Last week, Mr Wilson said pay would be frozen for 400 senior staff at the company while it was overhauled and would not rule out further jobs cuts among its 36,000 employees. These include about 18,000 in the UK.

Mr Wilson said there was no doubt what needed to be done over the next 12 months. "The insurance sector has made an industry out of complexity. We need to be simple and as predictable as a Swiss clock. That is my promise."

Aviva shares rose 1.8p to 324p.

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