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Potential job losses at Aviva as 'ruthless' chief reviews Irish unit

The man who is reviewing Aviva's operations in Ireland is known to be a ruthless cost-cutter who previously sought up to 1,800 redundancies at the company's UK operations.

Fifty-year-old Igal Mayer took over as head of Aviva Europe in January this year. He will now determine whether more than 500 of the 2,000 jobs in Dublin will be axed.

Staff were told his review of the Irish operations is expected in October at the earliest although details may come sooner as the news of the potential big job losses has now been made public. Aviva refused to comment on the likely job cuts yesterday. The company has said it is committed to the Irish market, but staff have been concerned for several months about the company's future prospects in Dublin.

The former head of its Irish operations, Stuart Purdy, left the group earlier this year and a number of other senior executives have since also departed.

All insurance companies here have seen business levels fall in response to the difficult economic conditions. Aviva, which is one of the biggest players and the most high profile following its €40m sponsorship deal with the Aviva stadium over the next 10 years, has also been significantly affected.

The pressure on job numbers in Dublin also comes as a result of Aviva's decision to move its European HQ from Ireland to London. About 250 of Aviva's 2,000 staff are believed to work in the European division headed by Mr Mayer who is based in London.

Mr Mayer replaced Andrea Moneta in a management re-shuffle this year with analysts suggesting Mr Moneta had created a structure in Dublin that was too large and was slowing down the decision-making progress.

Mr Mayer, who has been with Aviva for more than 20 years, is described as someone who gets results.

Within the industry he is known as a divisive figure who implemented a swingeing cost- cutting programme at Norwich Union, axing thousands of jobs over two years.


As well as huge job cuts, his plan included centralising many of its functions into seven centres across the UK that provided back office and other administrative services to customers.

His plan transformed that business into a hugely profitable operation for Aviva and he is now expected to streamline its entire European operations that account for 50pc of the group's business, to achieve similar results.

It is possible that his review will include integrating the Irish business more closely with the UK operations, taking functions out of Dublin and into some of the customer-service centres he established there in recent years.

Just how many job losses this might involve will depend on the number of staff Aviva believes it needs at a minimum to deal with its customers here.

Mr Mayer has held a number of senior roles at Aviva including a stint in Canada. In the UK, he oversaw the rebranding of Norwich Union to Aviva in 2009 that saw some of the world's most famous faces including Bruce Willis, Ringo Staff and Elle Macpherson, endorse the brand.

Irish Independent