The new boss of Aviva has pledged to listen to stakeholders and customers as he gets to work to restore the fortunes of the group.

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Aviva, which employs more than 18,000 staff, including 6,000 in Norwich, yesterday ended its six-month search for a new chief executive, unveiling Mark Wilson as its new boss.

The firm, which has been without a chief executive since the departure of Andrew Moss in May following a backlash from shareholders over the pay and perks of senior managers in the wake of poor share performance, said Mr Wilson, who was chief executive and president of insurance group AIA, will join the board from December 1 and become chief executive on New Year’s Day.

Mr Wilson admitted there was “substantial work to do” at the company, which is currently in the process of scaling back its operations and becoming less bureaucratic.

“It is a privilege to lead Aviva, an organisation with such a rich legacy and pedigree and many talented and dedicated people,” he said.

“It is acknowledged that over recent years the company has not performed to its potential.

“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. There is substantial work to do. I am looking forward to taking up this appointment and excited about the future prospects for Aviva.”

John McFarlane, who has been standing in as executive chairman, said Mr Wilson had an outstanding track record of leading a major insurer.

During his four-year tenure at pan-Asian insurance company AIA, Mr Wilson headed up a turnaround which saw non performing businesses sold off and improved its market valuation to $36bn (£23bn).

In July, Aviva unveiled a major sell-off plan after a review of 58 divisions had identified 16 weak performers that would be sold.

And last month the insurance group, which employs 18,500 people in the UK, and has its general insurance division based in Norwich, warned that up to 800 jobs could be lost under the restructuring plan.

The 46-year-old will continue the revival plan orchestrated by Mr McFarlane to make Aviva a “leaner, more agile beast”. He intends to execute the strategy with “rigour and focus”.

Mr McFarlane said: “I am delighted we have secured Mark for Aviva. His leadership credentials are incredibly strong.

“He has an outstanding track record of leading a major insurer, of transforming its performance and culture, of implementing a growth agenda and of producing significant shareholder value, all of which are essential for Aviva’s success going forward.”

Detailing his pay and conditions, Aviva said that the New Zealander will receive a basic annual salary of £980,000 plus an annual bonus for 2013 that will pay up to a maximum of 150pc of salary, subject to strict performance conditions and the requirement to defer two thirds of any award made into Aviva stock for a further three years.

He will also be required to build a shareholding in Aviva to the value of 200pc of his basic salary and will have to retain 50pc of the net share releases from his deferred bonus and long term incentive awards until this requirement is met.

shaun.lowthorpe@archant.co.uk

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Mark Wilson the CEO of Aviva. Picture PA.

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