Now raising intellectual capital

Aviva ceo gets vote of confidence from chairman. Oh dear.


It’s an iron law of business that whenever a chairman talks publicly of his complete confidence in his chief executive, he hasn’t got it. Andrew Moss must be hoping that Aviva, the UK’s biggest insurance group, is the exception that tests the rule.

His chairman, Colin Sharman, told The Times about his “full confidence” following the disclosure that Moss has left his wife for a relationship with a director from the company’s HR department.

As Alphaville was quick to point out, Aviva’s interim report for 2008 dribbled on about a rather different sort of triangle. This one “has been developed to explain the purpose, vision, targets and strategic priorities of the group”. I make that four sides, but never mind.

Insurance companies are not the only ones that seem to have been taken over by people to whom English is a foreign language, but perhaps it’s the nature of what they do that encourages elision and obfuscation. Here’s the “group strategy” from that same interim statement:

Aviva avoids property bargain on its doorstep


Aviva Investors is the latest asset manager to consider a fund to take advantage of real estate downturn, according to recent reports. By coincidence, the UK insurer is already very familiar with some of the property that may come to market as a result of the credit crunch.

The City of London office building St. Helen’s, where the UK insurer has its headquarters, was used as collateral by the property’s owner, Simon Halabi, for a commercial mortgage-backed security sold three years ago at the height of the credit boom.

Killing two birds with a partial IPO


SPORTS YACHTINGBanks and insurers are looking for ways to bolster their capital, while having the flexibility to strike if there are acquisitions to be had on the cheap. To achieve these twin goals, Spain’s Santander and now British insurer Aviva intend to float minority stakes in subsidiaries.

Aviva’s chief executive Andrew Moss, who cut the insurer’s dividend with its first-half result on Thursday, argued that it must be ready to take advantage of acquisition opportunities. Moss plans to float 25-30 percent of Delta Lloyd so that Aviva’s 92 percent owned Dutch insurance unit can take part in the restructuring of the Benelux insurance market.