Aviva CEO steps down after pay revolt
The CEO of Aviva has resigned following the rejection of the British insurer’s pay deals at its AGM last week. Andrew Moss, who turned down an annual salary rise earlier this year in a bid to head off a pay revolt, had received criticism from investors over excessive pay and weak share price performance.
The board has announced that chairman-designate John McFarlane will take over as interim chief executive with immediate effective until a new CEO is found. McFarlane has pledged to respond to shareholder concerns over the company’s share price.
‘My first priorities are to regain the respect of our shareholders by eliminating the discount in our share price and to find internally or externally the very best leader to be our future CEO,’ he says in a release. ‘I will meet all of the major investors over the coming days and weeks.’ Last week, Aviva become only the fourth FTSE 100 company to see its compensation package rejected by shareholders.
At the AGM, half of shareholders voted against Aviva’s pay plans in the non-binding vote, while 41 percent voted in favor and 9 percent abstained. Moss, however, did receive 95 percent backing to stay on as CEO. The vote at Aviva is the latest in a series of shareholder revolts around the world targeting pay.
The votes in the UK have been dubbed the ‘shareholder spring,’ a movement backed by UK business secretary Vince Cable who is pushing for stronger powers for investors over remuneration. Citi had its pay plans rejected three weeks ago, while more recently Barclays and Credit Suisse both saw more than a quarter of shareholders vote against their remuneration report. As a result of the Barclays vote, bank chairman Marcus Agius apologized for not doing ‘a good enough job in articulating our case’ to shareholders.