UPDATE 1-British insurer Aviva starts search for new finance director

Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:41am EST

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By Chris Vellacott

LONDON Jan 23 (Reuters) - British insurer Aviva is being forced to hunt for a new chief financial officer in the middle of a company wide overhaul after announcing that Pat Regan is to join Australian rival QBE in June.

Regan, who joined Aviva in February 2010, leaves at an awkward time for the group, which is into the second year of the root-and-branch revamp being steered by Chief Executive Mark Wilson.

However, Wilson emphasised that Regan's departure is amicable and that he is "supportive" of his colleague's decision to take a job elsewhere.

"Pat has been a tremendous support in assisting me with Aviva's financial transformation. I am supportive of his decision and he leaves with my best wishes and those of Aviva's board," Wilson said in a statement.

Aviva said it has started the search for a new finance director, the latest in a string of top-level changes since Wilson's 2013 arrival in the wake of an investor revolt that prompted the departure of his predecessor.

"Regan is the latest in a growing list of exits from Aviva which, to us, is likely to impact operating performance in the coming years," Shore Capital Stockbrokers said in a note on Thursday.

But Wilson, who previously ran Hong Kong-listed AIA Group , has already made many senior-level appointments at Aviva and has won the approval of investors for boosting the share price by close to a third.

His appointments include Euan Munro, recruited from Standard Life to run the fund management arm, and new heads of strategy and human resources. He has also appointed new leaders for the regional divisions in Asia, Europe and the UK general insurance arm.

Aviva continues to reshuffle its business priorities, ditching non-core assets and boosting areas that Wilson feels merit further investment, most recently a joint venture to sell life insurance in Indonesia.

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