Royal & Sun shareholders give new management a lukewarm reception

Royal & SunAlliance yesterday appointed a new chief executive and chairman to secure the company's future from its knife–edge financial position, but failed to convince shareholders the new team is up to the job.

The board has been scouring the market for a new chief executive following the departure of Bob Mendelsohn in September. The search ended yesterday with Andy Haste, currently chief executive of Axa Sun Life, the life and pensions business of the Axa group, becoming chief executive of RSA. John Napier, chairman of the water group Kelda, is to take over from Sir Patrick Gillam when he retires as chairman in March.

Prior to joining Axa, Mr Haste, 40, headed up the consumer finance division of GE Capital. He starts his new post in April and will be paid a salary of £600,000 with pension, car and bonuses as part of the package. Mr Napier, 60, will join in January as a non-executive director on a salary of £60,000. This will change when he takes over as chairman in March.

Sir Patrick said he was "enormously pleased" with the appointments. He said Mr Napier, who has no experience of insurance, was adept at turning round companies and would do the same job at RSA. Analysts, however, are concerned that the chairman is an unknown to insurance and that Mr Haste's experience lies in life and pensions business, while RSA is steering a course to become a property and casualty insurer.

The group posted record losses this year, and revealed a capital shortfall of £600m. Shareholder pressure caused Mr Mendelsohn to resign, leaving the chief operating officer, Bob Gunn, to stave off a rights issue. He revealed last month a plan to cut 12,000 jobs and shrink the business by £3.5bn of premiums through disposals. Mr Gunn yesterday said he would retire from the company next year.

The share price has failed to recover as concerns over the group's ability to pull off its disposal package hinged on the credibility of its new management.

"At a time when the company is at such a crucial stage, there will be no one on the board that either knows the industry or knows the company," one analyst said.

Shares in RSA closed down more than 5 per cent at 118p on yesterday's news.

Sir Patrick, who is also retiring from his chairmanship of Standard Chartered next year, said he had left the business with a very good management succession. He expressed regret that he and Mr Mendelsohn had been unable to find a buyer for the group's life businesses before 11 September.

Mr Haste shied away from media attention during his time at Axa Sun Life but will have to face up to shareholder scrutiny at the helm of what is still one of the world's largest insurance groups.

A list of more high-profile candidates in the insurance sector had been punted round the City as possibles for the top job at RSA, including Mark Wood at Prudential, Patrick Snowball at Aviva and Patrick O'Sullivan at Zurich. "Andy Haste will have to be judged on his results," said Roger Hill at UBS Warburg. "Shareholders are not immediately behind him because he doesn't have a profile. The company is in desperate need of proper shareholder support and that would have been helpful to have at the start of a new appointment."

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

£280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little