The new boss of insurance giant Aviva failed to quell shareholders’ anger yesterday when he faced them for the first time since they staged a rebellion forcing out his predecessor.
Mark Wilson sought to assuage investors at the company’s annual general meeting by admitting it had under-performed, telling them he agreed with their objections over executive pay, and insisting the new board is taking steps to turn the business around.
Meanwhile, chairman John McFarlane acknowledged past failings but said of current arrangements over pay: “I don’t think we do have our hands in the trough.”
But many shareholders remained angry about “payment for failure on a grand scale” as well as questioning a decision to slash dividends.
Around one in eight votes failed to back the board’s remuneration report for this year.
Speakers at the AGM were applauded as they criticised pay-offs for departing executives, demanded the resignation of the chairman of the remuneration committee and called for another board member to give his bonus to charity.
Mr Wilson was appointed chief executive after the departure of Andrew Moss following last year’s humiliation when the bulk of investors voted down a controversial pay deal.
Aviva is now undergoing a major restructuring amid a boardroom clear-out and disposals which saw it record a headline loss of £3bn this year.
The group employs around 4,300 people in Yorkshire at sites in York, Leeds and Sheffield.