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Aviva leaner and meaner – now comes the hard part

John McFarlane is doing something right. In the six months since the Aviva chairman announced a strategic shakeup, the insurer’s shares have risen by a third. Sure, all financials are rallying. But investors have warmed to his no-nonsense attitude (no doubt honed during a 10-year stint running an Australian bank) and to the disposal of businesses that account for just over a 10th of operating profits.