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Aviva Investors' equities CIO Cumming to exit in shake-up

Aviva Investors' equities CIO Cumming to exit in shake-up
Aviva Investors' equities CIO Cumming to exit in shake-up   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters

By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON – David Cumming, chief investment officer for equities at Aviva Investors, is to leave the firm, and other roles in the equity fund management team are also at risk, the fund management unit of the British insurer said on Monday.

The shake-up follows the appointment in January of Mark Versey as Aviva Investors’ chief executive officer.

“We have taken the decision to focus our equities business on sustainable outcomes and core strategies where there is clear client demand, namely UK and global equities, while retaining sufficient coverage to support our multi-asset strategies,” Aviva Investors said in an emailed statement.

It added that Versey had been “clear on the need to focus on areas where we have a competitive edge and are winning business”.

Aviva Investors said “a number of roles” were at risk in the equities team, and a consultation had begun with those affected.

Ten fund managers in total could lose their jobs, including head of global equities Mikhail Zverev, said a source familiar with the matter, confirming a report in the Mail on Sunday.

“It’s quite a mixture going across the whole of equities,” said another source.

Cumming, one of Britain’s best-known stock-pickers, joined Aviva Investors from Standard Life Investments in 2017. Zverev also previously worked at Standard Life, as did former Aviva Investors CEO Euan Munro.

The announcement comes as activist investor Cevian said last week it had taken a 5% stake in Aviva and called on it to return 5 billion pounds ($7 billion) to shareholders and cut costs.

Chief Executive Amanda Blanc, who took the top job at Aviva a year ago, has raised 7.5 billion pounds through selling off businesses in Europe and Asia.

But industry sources say there is scope for more change at the sprawling insurer, which offers both life and general insurance across several countries, alongside its investment management unit.

Adjusted operating profit for Aviva Investors fell 11% in 2020 to 85 million pounds, hit by lower demand for alternative assets.

Aviva Investors last month closed three UK property funds which had been suspended since March 2020 due to market uncertainty as a result of COVID-19.

($1 = 0.7085 pounds)