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It took Blanc only a month to announce her strategy when she took over the $62.6 billon U.K.-based insurer in July 2020. It has also taken her impressively little time to execute her plan to refocus the business on its three core markets of Canada, Ireland, and the U.K. That meant getting out of a lot of places, and she has—selling eight businesses, including the company’s French, Italian, Polish and Turkish for a total of $10.6 billion. She has promised to return much of that value—at least $5.4 billion—to shareholders by mid-2022, while also staying focused on cutting costs. That quick work hasn’t kept the activist fund, Cevian Capital, which now holds a 5.02% stake in Aviva, from demanding more. Blanc, who has been vocal about the need for her industry to catch up to climate change, is also moving her company aggressively on that front. Earlier this year the company’s investment arm threatened to divest holdings in 30 carbon-intensive companies if they don’t change their ways.


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