Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) finally announced Bob Mendelsohn's replacement as AXA Sun Life chief executive Andy Haste. He will join R&SA's board as group chief executive in April 2003.

The insurer also announced the successor to present chairman Sir Patrick Gillam, who retires in March 2003. John Napier, 60, is currently the non-executive chairman of utility company Kelda Group, the owner of Yorkshire Water, but will join R&SA as chairman designate from January 2003.

The City reacted badly to the news. R&SA lost 6% of its share price when the insurer made the Stock Exchange announcement. Shareholders were less than impressed by two "non-life novices", reports said.

Meanwhile the insurer also restructured its claims operations. Eight small regional offices will be closed with the loss of 80 jobs during the second and fourth quarters in 2003. The offices affected are Belfast, Reading, Croydon, Bristol, Oldham, Sunderland and Peterborough.

R&SA UK claims director Rod Kitchen, who took the role in October 2002, said: "This is part of the on-going rationalisation programme and when combining operations clearly there will have to be some cutbacks.

"But 80 jobs from a workforce of 2,500 must be kept in proportion."

Kitchen said the insurer would be putting more work through its in-house loss adjusting arm, PCS.