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Aviva has kicked off its sweeping disposal plan by selling slightly more than half its remaining shareholding in Delta Lloyd, the Dutch insurer it used to fully own, for £318m.
The UK-headquartered insurer – which revealed on Thursday that it was planning to sell 16 business units in an attempt to improve its weak share performance – disposed of 37m Delta Lloyd shares through a placing at a price of €10.75 each.
The holding that has been jettisoned is bigger than the 25m shares originally earmarked for sale. It leaves Aviva holding 34m Delta Lloyd shares, slightly less than 20 per cent of the Dutch group’s issued share capital.
Delta Lloyd was spun out of Aviva in 2009 through an initial public offering. The UK group’s remaining stake in its former subsidiary was identified as non-core in a strategic review carried out by John McFarlane, its new executive chairman.
Mr McFarlane took the reins of the company in May after the resignation of Andrew Moss, its chief executive, in the wake of an investor revolt.
On Thursday, he said he wanted to narrow the focus of the business and strengthen its balance sheet following complaints from shareholders.
Business segments Aviva plan to sell include its South Korean arm, its large-scale bulk purchase annuities business in the UK and smaller partnerships with Italian banks.
Barrie Cornes, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, said the bigger than expected Delta Lloyd disposal was “evidence that the turnround strategy at Aviva is under way”.
Shares in Aviva rose 3 per cent to 292.5p in early morning trading in London on Friday but have still fallen by a third over the past year.