RSA boss Andy Haste tipped to take over from the departed Andrew Moss

Andy Haste RSA RBS insurande

Aviva is vulnerable to a takeover or a break-up as its share price languishes and there is a leadership vacuum at the top following chief executive Andrew Moss’s departure.

Moss departed today following a row over directors’ pay in which shareholders rejected Aviva’s remuneration report on Thursday.

Chairman-elect John McFarlane takes over the role in the interim, but clamour is growing for former RSA chief executive Andy Haste, who has a stellar reputation in the City, to come in and shake up Aviva’s lacklustre group performance.

Shore Capital analysts Eamonn Flanagan warned: “Andrew Moss has announced his immediate resignation as CEO with Chairman Designate, John McFarlane, to become interim Executive Chairman for the time being.

“The appointment of a new CEO is expected to take a number of months, with McFarlane focused on some priorities in the meantime: the focus of the group; financial strength; performance, with the aim to reduce the discount the shares trade at.

“So, shareholder pressure/activism has claimed a major scalp following the recent furore over remuneration. To our mind, there a number of terrific assets within the Aviva stable and the prospect of pushing these forward in a cohesive fashion should appeal to some strong candidates in the industry. In the meantime, this hiatus in leadership could leave the group vulnerable to either take-over or break-up.”

Jefferies analyst James Shuck said: “The investor day planned for May 24 will be postponed until June-July. New priorities have been announced along Focus, financial strength, performance and stakeholders – at this stage nothing more than aspirations with no detail. We expect his departure to be taken positively by the market, clearing the way for more aggressive restructuring of the group.

“There are strong arguments for breaking Aviva up and we expect any new management to seriously consider this. His ultimate replacement is unclear, especially with Igal Mayer (previously CEO of Europe) having recently laid off. Andy Haste, previous CEO of RSA would be a popular choice and he is currently doing nothing at this moment.”