Chief executive denies move prompted by Ireland’s low corporate tax

Aviva is to redomicile its European operations to Ireland, centralising its 12 European businesses into new headquarters in Dublin.

But European chief executive Andrea Moneta dismissed suggestions the move was driven by tax reasons (Ireland has a 12.5% corporate tax rate).

“If we make more business in a country with a low tax rate, we may have some benefits. This is absolutely not the primary reason; this will be a side-effect of what we do,” she said.

Aviva will still have European branches, but the holding company will be based in Dublin.

A spokesman stressed Aviva’s UK operations were not affected by the move. He said the move would smooth the path towards Solvency II integration.

“This structure, the holding company and branch structures will allow great flexibility with Solvency II, with regards to capital.”

Meanwhile, Aviva chairman Lord Sharman publicly backed chief executive Andrew Moss, following revelations of his affair with colleague Deirdre Moffatt.

“Andrew has been very open with me and I am clear that there has been no breach of company rules,” said Lord Sharman. “I am completely satisfied that this has in no way impacted his role as chief executive and he retains my full confidence.”

In a busy week for the company, Aviva poached Willis chief financial operating officer Patrick Regan.

The move has left the broker scouting the market for a replacement, a spokesman for company said.

Moss said that Regan had a deep understanding of the insurance business and a track record of leading change to improve financial performance and reporting.

“He brings a global perspective and a disciplined and highly strategic approach. These are key qualities as we seek to realise Aviva’s full potential and establish ourselves as a global group.”