Ayling resigns from Royal & Sun board

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The Independent Online

Bob Ayling, the former chief executive of British Airways, stepped down as a director of Royal & SunAlliance yesterday after 11 years, completing the overhaul of the board which began when the former chief executive Bob Mendelsohn was ousted two years ago.

Bob Ayling, the former chief executive of British Airways, stepped down as a director of Royal & SunAlliance yesterday after 11 years, completing the overhaul of the board which began when the former chief executive Bob Mendelsohn was ousted two years ago.

Mr Ayling's departure leaves the group's chairman John Napier, who was appointed in January last year, as the longest serving member of the board.

Most of the company's old guard followed Mr Mendelsohn out of the group after he resigned in September 2002. However, although Mr Ayling offered to tender his resignation, Mr Napier asked him to stay on for at least another year to help the transition run smoothly.

Commenting on Mr Ayling's retirement, Mr Napier said: "Bob has served Royal & SunAlliance for 11 years and deferred his retirement at my request last year. In the relatively short time that we have worked together he has provided excellent continuity, advice and support in making the comprehensive board and management changes at the group. As a major contributor to the company and boardroom colleague he will be missed."

Mr Mendelsohn, who headed up RSA for five years, was ousted from the group after it slumped to first-half losses of £319m in 2002.

The company ran into difficulty after it was hit by a series of onerous claims concerning asbestos-related illness and the 11 September terrorist attacks, coupled with soaring liabilities in its life insurance division.

During his time at the top of the business in 1997, the company's share price slumped from a high of 773p to 95p. The company has since raised £1bn from a rights issue. Its shares closed at 69p, giving it a market value of about £2bn.

The group also announced the appointment of a new board member, David Paige, yesterday. Mr Paige has been poached from Aviva to take up the role of group risk director.

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