Friends Life boosts Aviva

​Insurance giant insurer Aviva said new business rose 25 per cent in the first nine months of 2015 to £823m, following the acquisition of rival Friends Life earlier in the year.

The firm’s combined operating ratio, a key measure of performance in its general insurance business, strengthened by 1.9 percentage points from a year earlier, to 94 per cent. A number below 100 per cent indicates a profit.

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Aviva, which employs 2,000 people in York and 1,300 in Sheffield,​​ said it had achieved cost savings of £91m so far from the Friends Life merger, against a £225m target.

“The acquisition of Friends Life is everything we expected it to be,” chief executive Mark Wilson saidt, adding that for the firm, “there exists significant upside from better capital allocation and a more effective digital customer proposition”.

JP Morgan analysts called the results “a reassuring set of numbers”, reiterating their ‘overweight’ rating on the stock.