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Aviva signals fresh disposals as restructuring saves £250m

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    Aviva has announced today that it is in discussions with external parties to sell its US life and annuities business “at a substantial discount to book value” as part of a fresh wave of disposals in its ongoing restructuring, which it says have already saved annual costs of around £250m.

    In its interim statement for the nine months to the end of September, Aviva chairman John McFarlane highlighted that the sale would be in the “best interests” of the group and that the company is hopeful of a “satisfactory resolution reasonably soon”.

    Mr McFarlane also stated that there will be a further eight “smaller disposals”, which are now more likely to be in 2013 and that he expects will be completed “without a significant impact on the group’s... book value”.

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    By the end of this year, the insurer will have delivered a £250m run rate cost reduction and it is on track to meet its £400m cost reduction target, following a major restructuring that has seen some 800 staff lose their jobs.

    Aviva’s Q3 results statement says: “We have achieved our cost savings through a number of actions including reducing the number of management levels in the UK business between the chief executive and operational staff from nine to five, removing the regional layer of our business and integrating our UK and Ireland businesses.”

    Operating capital generated rose year on year from £1.1bn to £1.3bn in the first nine months of 2012, while total worldwide sales over the period totalled £29bn, down 5 per cent on the previous year.

    In the UK and Ireland sales of life and pensions fell 3 per cent from £8.8bn to £8.5bn, while investments sales fell 4 per cent from £1.32bn to £1.27bn. Aviva Investors saw its sales rise 70 per cent from £1.2bn to £2bn.

    John McFarlane, chairman, said: “I am pleased to report that we have taken, and are continuing to take, firm and decisive actions to transform Aviva.”

    Mr McFarlane said that the key priorities for the firm remain: appointing a “high-quality CEO”; building financial strength and reducing risk and volatility; narrowing focus on core businesses; improving earnings and return on equity performance.

    In regards for the chief executive search, Aviva said the process is now well advanced and in line with the original timetable set out by the board.

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