Business World

Monday 26 August 2019

Insurer Aviva 'eyeing up sale' of Asian division

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Manuel Baigorri, Jan-Henrik Förster and Joyce Koh

Aviva is considering options for its Asian business including a possible divestment of the unit as its new chief executive seeks to overhaul the British insurer, people familiar with the matter have said.

The Asian assets could be valued at about $3bn to $4bn (€2.7bn-€3.6bn), and a formal process could kick off later this year, the people said, asking not to be identified.

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While Aviva is exploring options with potential advisers, the discussions are at an early stage and no final decisions have been made, they said.

Several rival insurers have signalled an interest in the business, though some potential bidders would only want to acquire parts of the division, the people said.

A representative for Aviva declined to comment.

Aviva's shares rose 1.3pc to 411.30 pence in London yesterday, after earlier jumping as much as 3.7pc, the biggest intraday gain in more than eight weeks. The company is scheduled to report its half-year financial results on August 8.

CEO Maurice Tulloch, who took over in March, has said he is going to cut expenses by £300m (€329m) a year and cut 1,800 jobs by 2022.

It is an attempt to re-inject growth in the company and lower debt.

Rivals have done better by concentrating on life and pensions, rather than general insurance.

Mr Tulloch said in June that he was "determined to crack Aviva's complexity, an issue which has held back our performance for too long".

He has said he will unveil the rest of his strategy in November.

"It seems likely that Aviva would need to invest significantly in Asia to grow its business," said Kevin Ryan, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

"It would not be a surprise if the Asian business was sold, especially if Aviva had received an approach for it."

Aviva has about 52pc of its customers outside of its home market. The company has 885,000 clients in Singapore.

Bloomberg

Irish Independent

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