* Wilson to take over on Jan. 1
* To be paid a basic 980,000 pounds a year
* Also in line for a performance-related bonus next year
* Two-thirds of 1.5 mln bonus must be deferred and in shares
* Aviva shares up 0.8 percent
By Myles Neligan
LONDON, Nov 20 Aviva Plc named Mark
Wilson, a former head of Asian rival AIA Group Ltd, as
chief executive six months after investors unhappy with the
British insurer's weak share price forced out his predecessor.
Wilson, credited with steering AIA through the financial
crisis and preparing it for a 2010 stock market listing,
inherits the task of shedding Aviva's underperforming units to
boost profit and revitalise its flagging stock.
New Zealand-born Wilson, 46, will take over the top job at
Aviva on Jan. 1, Britain's No.2 insurer said on Tuesday. He
succeeds Andrew Moss, who quit in May.
Some analysts said Wilson was well-qualified to lead
Europe-focused Aviva even though his 25-year career has been
spent almost entirely in Asia.
"He's a well-respected guy, although the issues with turning
around a European insurer are a bit different to growing an
Asian one," said analyst Barnard Marcus at brokerage Oriel
Securities. "This ends uncertainty and means the company can
Aviva shares were 0.8 percent higher at 1445 GMT,
outperforming the FTSE 100 which was down 0.2 percent.
The stock, which fell 60 percent during Moss's five-year
tenure, has risen 11 percent since the start of the year, still
lagging a 25 percent increase in the STOXX Europe 600 insurance
Aviva relies on the troubled eurozone for about 40 percent
of its profit - far more than its main British rivals Prudential
Plc , Legal & General Group Plc and Standard
Life Plc which have little or no significant euro
exposure - and some investors have seen its exposure to the
region as a threat to its capital strength.
Aviva Chairman John McFarlane, in charge of the group since
Moss's departure, in July launched a reorganisation based on
selling 16 units that tie up over a third of its capital while
contributing just 18 percent of operating profit.
"It's probably helpful that nobody knows Wilson that well
because it means his arrival won't be prejudiced," said Investec
analyst Kevin Ryan.
"Given that McFarlane has set out the path to be travelled
down, it takes the pressure of the CEO to come up with his own
Wilson will be paid a basic annual salary of 980,000 pounds
($1.6 million) and is in line for a performance-related bonus
next year of up to 1.5 million pounds, of which two thirds must
be deferred and paid in shares.
"My first task will be to listen to Aviva's stakeholders,
including customers, shareholders, staff and regulators, and
ascertain the key concerns and opportunities that face the
business," Wilson said in a statement.
Analysts questioned whether Aviva finance chief Pat Regan,
who had been seen as the leading internal candidate for the
chief executive role, would stay on under Wilson.