Direct Line axes 70 top executives

Direct Line, the insurer that is being spun out of Royal Bank of Scotland, has axed 70 senior executives, including its chief operating officer, as it tries to save £100m a year by the end of 2014.

Jonathan Davidson, who joined Direct Line two years ago after 20 years with consultancy group McKinsey, "decided to leave" alongside Sheree Howard, managing director in charge of Solvency II, the major insurance-industry changes, the firm said.

Direct Line cut 900 jobs in September, including closing a call centre, in an attempt to reduce costs: it wants to be spending £100m a year less by the end of 2014.

The insurance group, which also includes the Churchill and Green Flag brands, employs about 15,000 staff.

State-owned RBS was ordered by regulators to sell the business as a condition of securing its bailout from the Government.