Will I work in the UK again? Never say never, says Patrick Snowball as he heads to Australia

Patrick Snowball has not ruled out returning to the UK at the end of his four-year contract with the Australian firm Suncorp.

The former head of Aviva says part of his new job as chief executive of Suncorp will be to stabilise the company before handing over to a new management team at the end of his contract. Half-year profits at Suncorp fell 32% to 31 December last year.

Asked whether he would work again within the UK industry again, Snowball said: “Never say never.”

He said Suncorp’s chairman wanted him to reshape the business and look at ways it could take advantage of its strong brands and market share. He starts his new job on 1 September.

“The four years will be a fantastic time, but I look forward to coming back to the UK.”

Suncorp has been hit by bad debts in its banking arm, with reported half-year pre-tax profits of $A258m (£127m) down from $A384m for the six months ended 31 December last year.

But Snowball insisted the company was still in a “strong position” and he was confident taking it to the “next stage of development”. He also said his experience of leading Aviva through the recession of the 1990s had helped him to get the job.

Age and know-how were also factors. “In the UK, firms are looking for [people with] more experience and scars on their back to pick up businesses that have been put through difficult times.”

Asked about his lack of experience within the Australian market, Snowball commented: “It would be unwise not to recognise the cultural differences. That is why I’m reliant on a stable Australian management team. But running a large, complex composite is not new to me.”