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Aviva says CFO to leave

Source: Reuters - Thu 2th Jul 2009

Insurer Aviva on Thursday announced the surprise departure of its finance chief, Philip Scott, sending its shares lower.

Aviva, the country's second-biggest insurer by market value, said Scott, 55, would quit at the end of the year. He has been Aviva's chief financial officer for less than two years, having previously headed the group's European division.

Aviva shares closed 3.3 percent lower at 318.5 pence, making them the third biggest faller in the FTSE 100 share index, which settled little changed on the day.

"It's a surprise, so in that sense it's potentially a negative" said Fox-Pitt, Kelton analyst Raghu Hariharan.

"No successor has been announced, and it seems a bit sudden."

An Aviva spokeswoman said Scott, 55, does not plan to seek another executive role, but may take on additional non-executive responsibilities. He is currently a non-executive director of drinks maker Diageo.

"I would like to thank Philip for his considerable efforts on behalf of the group over many years" Aviva chief executive Andrew Moss said in a statement.

"I have a strong executive team in place to which I look forward adding a new CFO and together we will take the business to the next phase."

Aviva shares have fallen 18 percent since the beginning of the year, weighed in part by concerns that rising corporate bond defaults as the economy contracts could erode Aviva's capital reserves. 

The stock fell by a third on March 5 after the insurer said it would keep its 2008 dividend unchanged, confounding speculation it might trim the payout to preserve its capital strength.

Scott took over as Aviva's finance chief in July 2007 in a management reshuffle following Moss's appointment as chief executive. He has spent a total of 36 years working for Aviva or its legacy companies.

Aviva said the search for Scott's successor was under way, and that there would be a further announcement "in due course."

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