Axa is looking outside the insurance industry to find a replacement for Mark Wood, who announced his intention to resign as UK group chief executive last week, an inside source revealed.

Head-hunting firms have been instructed to conduct a search for potential candidates. Applications are also expected from senior Axa officials.

But the insurer said it would not be making a quick decision on Wood's

A spokesman for Axa said: “We expect to fill Wood's role in due course, but are in no exceptional rush to do so because our four main businesses are led by four strong chief executives.”

The four men he refers to are PPP healthcare boss Mark Adams, Axa Insurance chief executive Andy Homer, Axa Sun Life chief Andy Haste and Axa Ireland head John O'Neill.

Wood's duties have temporarily passed to Axa group chairman Anthony Hamilton.

Wood is set to join rival insurer the Prudential in June, where he will spearhead the growth of its general insurance business, including internet insurer Egg Insure.