Ellen Bennett, editor-in-chief

Sacre bleu! Paul Evans takes no prisoners. After months of speculation surrounding AXA, the new broom got sweeping within days of taking office. As we bid au revoir to Philippe Maso after a very public exit, the big question is: what will Evans do next?

Just like nature, the insurance market abhors a vacuum. Evans must follow up one decisive action with many more. Maso talked the talk but failed to follow through in practice, and Evans cannot afford to make the same mistake. The appointment of a commercial boss is crucial. Maso’s biggest weakness was his lack of trading clout and his failure to appoint a number two with the relationships and skills to compensate. AXA, once run by the dream team of Andy Homer, Barry Smith, Mark Cliff, Francois Xavier Boisseau, Amanda Blanc and Clive Nathan, was let down by its people.

Evans needs a trader and fast. Paul Meehan, the broker’s friend, has the network but he was Maso’s man and is unlikely to hang around. To wipe the slate clean, Evans needs to go hunting – and Allianz might not be a bad place to start.

Evans will also need to confront those inevitable Bluefin sale rumours. A management buy-out is a possibility, but given the price AXA paid for the broking businesses and the much lower price it would get today, there must be better options. Bluefin is still putting twice as much business through Aviva as AXA – there’s an immediate opportunity to start rebuilding that commercial book.

It all adds up to one hell of a job. So, Mr Evans, we wish you bonne chance. IT