Aviva chairman Adrian Montague is to step down later this year following a boardroom shake-up at the insurer and amid questions about whether it should launch a more radical restructuring.
Sir Adrian, who is retiring, said when he took the job in 2015 that he would do it for at least five years.
In the past 18 months Aviva has replaced its top two executives. Maurice Tulloch replaced Mark Wilson as chief executive while Jason Windsor took over from Tom Stoddard in the finance role.
There has also been a slew of recent non-executive appointments as Amanda Blanc, George Culmer and Patrick Flynn have joined the board in place of Glyn Barker and Claudia Arney.
Mr Tulloch relaunched Aviva’s strategy last year, promising to cut £1.5bn of debt, shave £300m a year off the cost base by cutting 1,800 jobs, extract more value from tech investments and shake up the UK business by splitting life insurance from non-life insurance.
He has also trimmed back Aviva’s activities in Asia, selling the Hong Kong business and putting the operations in Vietnam and Indonesia up for sale.
“Now that Maurice has launched Aviva’s strategy, a new senior management team is in place and the board has been refreshed, it is also time for a new chairman,” Sir Adrian said.
Despite the changes announced by Mr Tulloch last year, there have been concerns that the company’s restructuring efforts are not radical enough. Speaking to the Financial Times last month, Credit Suisse analyst Abid Hussain said the company should think about selling its businesses in Turkey, France, Italy and Poland.
Bankers have said the insurer could also consider selling off its back book of UK life insurance policies.
Aviva has a wide range of life and non-life insurance businesses around the world. Investors have said the reasons for owning its shares are not as clear as they were at Prudential, which has a big Asian business, or Legal & General, which has focused heavily on the UK retirement market.
Since Sir Adrian became chairman, Aviva’s shares have lost a quarter of their value, underperforming rivals Legal & General and Prudential. The FTSE 100 has risen 12 per cent in the same period. Aviva’s share price was flat on Tuesday.
The group has not given a firm date for Sir Adrian’s departure, saying only that he would retire once a successor had been appointed. The board has started the process of looking for a replacement.
Sir Adrian, who is 72, is chair of Manchester airport and of Cadent, an energy business. He also chairs the leadership council of lobby group TheCityUK.