Aviva lands Matthews as Hodges joins Towergate

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Aviva has announced the departure of Mark Hodges, its UK chief executive, and his replacement with Trevor Matthews, the insurance veteran who recently ran Friends Life.

The flurry of activity saw Mr Hodges quit to run Towergate only to be replaced by Mr Matthews in a matter of days.

Mr Hodges' move was a surprise because the Aviva veteran was seen as a potential successor to Andrew Moss, the group's current chief executive.

Mr Hodges has taken the chance to be the boss at the privately owned insurance broker. The job also promises a bumper payday if the company floats on the stock market. Mr Matthews's decision to join Aviva also raised eyebrows because he had planned to return to his native Australia after Friends Life.

Mr Matthews said yesterday that he and his family had applied for British citizenship and may now never leave.

"We were thinking of that [returning to Australia] in the future – that is true. It's quite interesting how these things happen.

"I knew Aviva and Andrew Moss pretty well and they moved pretty quickly. I've been impressed with the way they have acted."

Mr Matthews stepped down from running Friends Life, owned by Clive Cowdery's Resolution vehicle, in January and handed over to his replacement, Andy Briggs, two days ago.

Mr Matthews said staying on as chief executive would have meant a long-term commitment to take the company to a stock market flotation.

Asked how long he intended to stay at Aviva, he said: "The world has moved on since that discussion. As a family we are very happy to be here [indefinitely]."

He was meant to serve as Friends Life's vice-chairman before heading down under but is now on up to six months' gardening leave.