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."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering