Aviva Plc, the U.K.’s second-largest insurer by market value, said Chief Executive Officer Andrew Moss will not accept his 2012 salary rise as investors pressure the company to reassess its compensation structure.
The move follows talks with shareholders on whether the compensation of executive directors reflects the firm’s 2011 performance, London-based Aviva said in a statement today. Moss’s salary was due to rise 5 percent to 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) this month from 951,000 last year according to the company’s annual report.
“Shareholders have reacted badly to the pay of executive directors which has been linked to operating profit rather than bottom line profit, which includes the impact of the turmoil in Europe,” said Barrie Cornes, a London-based analyst at Panmure Gordon & Co. with a buy rating on the stock. “While the company argues it cannot control factors below the operating line, it is the bottom line that has impacted the share price.”
Moss follows Barclays Plc CEO Robert Diamond, who also changed the terms of his remuneration package following investor unrest. Diamond and Finance Director Chris Lucas this month agreed to cut their deferred bonuses for 2011 at Britain’s second-largest bank by assets until the lender improves profitability.
Pensions Investment Research Consultants Ltd., which advises investors with 1.5 trillion pounds of assets, said Aviva’s plan is “welcome” in an e-mailed statement today. PIRC is keeping its earlier recommendation investors vote against Aviva’s “excessive” remuneration at its annual general meeting this week, it said.
Crisis Hurt Sales
Aviva’s stock declined 24 percent in 2011, compared with a 7 percent fall in the nine-member FTSE All-Share Life Insurance Index. The European sovereign debt crisis hurt sales in the region, which the firm said was a strategic priority in 2009, and forced the insurer to cut its holdings of Greek, Portuguese, Irish, Italian and Spanish government bonds.
“We take the views of our shareholders very seriously,” said Scott Wheway, chairman of Aviva’s compensation committee. “A number of shareholders have indicated that they would like to see a different approach to the way we compensate senior directors on recruitment and an even closer correlation between our pay packages and shareholder returns.”
Moss also received a 1.16 million-pound bonus in cash and stock, 480,000 pounds as part of a long-term incentive plan and 98,000 pounds in other benefits. The 2.69 million-pound total for 2011 compares with 2.47 million pounds in 2010, according to the annual report.