Insurance giant Aviva today announced that former Australian banking boss John McFarlane will become its chairman from next June.
The Dumfries-born banker made his name turning round the fortunes of Australia and New Zealand Bank, which he led for 10 years until 2007.
He is currently a non-executive director at Royal Bank of Scotland, a role he will relinquish by the end of March in order to take over the Aviva hotseat from Lord Sharman, who has held the position since January 2006.
Mr McFarlane will join the Aviva board from September and also relocate from Australia to the UK.
He said: “Aviva is a great company and an excellent brand and recent results show that the hard work over the last few years is paying off.
“I’ve been impressed with the people I have met and look forward to working with them.”
Mr McFarlane, who has dual British and Australian citizenship, started his business career in the motor industry with Ford before he moved to Citibank, where he led its UK and Ireland operation.
Barclays deputy chairman Sir Richard Broadbent had been seen as an early front-runner for the Aviva role but instead opted to take the chairman’s seat at Tesco.
The Aviva appointment comes at a key time for the insurer following the surprise exit of UK chief executive Mark Hodges, who was named this month as the new boss of Towergate. He had been tipped as a potential successor to group chief executive Andrew Moss, who has held the role for four years.
Succession planning is expected to be a key part of Mr McFarlane’s job, given that it is thought Mr Moss will stand down in the next two years.