August 4, 2011

People have been saying for years how lucky RSA are to have Andy Haste. Eight years in, that luck has just run out.

Initially unfancied as an insurance industry outsider, Haste was an immediate hit, fully living up to his reputation for being a turning things round type person and improving the company’s share price by 100% within his first 100 days.

There’s general agreement that RSA has been a well run ship ever since, with all going well right up to the point last year when the firm’s £5bn bid for the GI bits of Uvavu got turned down. Mongers of scurrilositude have been quick to link Haste’s departure to that rejection, the unforthcomingness of any bigger better offer, and to persistent talk of RSA’s now being a takeover target.

In reality Haste has hardly lived up to his name in the rapidity of his jumping ship. With Solvency II looming and share prices plummeting, RSA’s independence is under no immediate threat, but if quitting whilst ahead was ever a factor in AH’s deliberations, he’s achieved that with aplomb. RSA has just announced that it has finessed a first-half profit of £8m in challenging market conditions, and Haste makes an orderly handover to internal promotee Simon Lee.

Whatever he decides to do next, he’s unlikely to be short of offers.


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