The UK’s biggest insurer Aviva has appointed Patrick Regan as CFO, taking
over from Philip Scott. Scott has spent 36 years at the firm, taking a big role
in the flotation of what was then Norwich Union in 1997.
It’s more a question of what hasn’t happened for the insurance giant in recent
weeks and months, and Regan comes into the business at an exciting time. The
former CFO and COO of insurance broker Willis, Regan will be busy on several
While some headlines in the past week have focused on chief executive Andrew
Moss’ private life, that should not distract from two major pieces of business
undertaken by the insurer.
It has taken a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange and
restructured its European business. While some reports suggest analysts think it
was unnecessary, announcement of the listing boosted Aviva’s shares and the
strategy has broadly been welcomed.
Aviva took the listing to make it easier for US investors, particularly as a
big proportion of shareholdings are from the US (currently around 20%).
While UK companies have shied away from US listings in recent years due to
concerns over regulation (in particular Sarbox), Aviva have taken the leap. With
an ongoing global finance programme underway, and meeting US internal controls
regulation, this should focus Regan’s mind immediately.
“Aviva has completed preparations for listing… This enhances Aviva’s
financial processes, controls and risk management frameworks, bringing it
Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and broader risk management benefits for the group,”
said Aviva in a statement to the markets.
The restructuring has seen the insurer base its European HQ in Ireland.
This might seem like a kick in the teeth to the UK, but its UK operations are
effectively separate from its European business. It is, of course, something for
the government to bear in mind favourable tax jurisdictions can help attract
European chief executive Andrea Moneta tried to play down that tax was a big
reason for its choice of Ireland. “If we make more business in a country with a
lower tax rate, we may have some tax benefits,” reported the Telegraph. “This is
absolutely not the primary reason.”
What’s going to happen?
Regan’s focus for the group is summed up nicely by his new boss Moss. His track
record of improving reporting and financial performance, and his global
experience are key for the group going forward.
“He brings a global perspective and a disciplined and strategic approach.
These are key qualities as we seek to realise Aviva’s full potential and
establish ourselves as a global group,” said Moss.
Regan will need all his experience from Grant Thornton, GE Capital Bank, Axa,
RSA and Willis, as his new shook-up employer drives forward.
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