Aviva on track to return at least £4bn to investors

Insurance giant Aviva said it is on track to return at least £4bn to shareholders and meet or beat cost saving targets.

The life, motor and home insurer, which employs 2,000 people at its life and general insurance business in York and 1,500 at its life and health insurance operation in Sheffield, is under pressure to boost returns from activist investor Cevian.

Cevian bought a 5 per cent stake in Aviva earlier this year and wants the insurer to return £5bn in capital to shareholders by the end of 2022, following a recent spate of international disposals.

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In August, Aviva said it would return £4bn to shareholders, a figure which Cevian said was insufficient.

Aviva is consolidating operations into its York city centre office in Wellington Row

This morning, Aviva said it has completed £450m of a £750m share buyback and it is on course to achieve a savings target of £300m in 2022, relative to a 2018 baseline.

Cevian has also said it sees scope for further cost cutting by the insurer, totalling at least £500m by 2023.

Amanda Blanc, Aviva's group chief executive, said: “Aviva has delivered a strong performance in the first nine months.

"Record inflows in savings & retirement and excellent growth in general insurance support our confidence in Aviva’s growth potential. Savings & retirement net flows were up 21 per cent year-to-date, continuing the strong first half performance. Bulk annuity volumes accelerated sharply in the third quarter.

"General Insurance premiums grew 5 per cent year-to-date reflecting solid customer retention and new business wins, particularly in commercial lines.

“We continue to make excellent and rapid strategic progress, right across Aviva."

Ms Blanc said the completion of disposals in France and Italy since the half year are significant milestones as Aviva is radically simplified and refocused.

“Aviva is targeting Net Zero by 2040 and we welcome the Government's plan, mandating financial institutions to publish transition plans," she added

"This will help to ensure that every firm making a Net Zero commitment - whether an insurer, a bank or an asset manager - is doing so in a robust and consistent way.

"We look forward with confidence. We expect the good trading momentum to continue in the fourth quarter, and we remain on track to meet or exceed our cash and cost saving targets.”

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