RSA Insurance boss Stephen Hester hails 'positive change' after year of chaos


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The Independent Online

RSA Insurance chief executive Stephen Hester has claimed that the group has seen "positive changes" after a year of "chaos".

The former Royal Bank of Scotland boss started his job in February after a turbulent few months at the insurance group, during which it issued three profit warnings in six weeks and parted ways with Hester’s predecessor, Simon Lee.

Hester has since launched a £750 million rights issue, sold off RSA’s Baltic and Polish operations and started stripping out costs.

He said that progress has been made since the start of this year but warned that there are still tough times ahead.

“After the chaos of last year, there have been lots of positive changes at the group, which have been reflected in both our share price and credit rating,” Hester explained. “At the same time, I’m extremely conscious that we’re just laying the foundations.”

RSA’s gross written premiums fell 4 per cent to £1.96 billion in the first quarter as it scaled back on the amount of business underwritten. It also revealed that poor weather in the UK, Ireland and Canada had cost it £111 million in claims.

Ahead of the group’s annual general meeting in London tomorrow, Hester added: “It’s always a special occasion, especially for retail shareholders who don’t often get their say. I expect most of them will be unhappy about the mess the company is in but happy about the direction we are taking.”