Aviva’s Delta Lloyd sale to net �381m

Norwich-based insurance giant Aviva said today the sale of part of its stake in Amsterdam-based Delta Lloyd NV would net it �381m.

The sale was said to be an 'important step' in Aviva's strategy of focusing on profitable growth in markets where it has strength and scale, which does not include the Benelux region.

It would see 25 million Delta Lloyd ordinary shares offered, equivalent to just over 15pc of the firm, making Aviva no longer a majority share-holder. It would leave Aviva with the equivalent of a 43.1pc stake in Delta Lloyd's share capital.

Aviva today said it had successfully priced the sale of its stake at Euro 17.25 per share. As a result the partial disposal to institutional investors netted it �381m.

The deal will still have to be ratified by shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting due to be held on May 4.

Aviva will still have a 43.1pc stake in Delta Lloyd.

Chief executive Andrew Moss said: 'I'm pleased with the success of this offering which represents a significant step forward in the delivery of our strategy.'

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'Reducing our shareholding in Delta Lloyd will not only enhance our liquidity and further strengthen our balance sheet but is also consistent with our focus on pursuing profitable growth in markets where we have strength and scale.'

The deal will also reduce exposure to Delta Lloyd's investment portfolio, increase its liquidity and give Aviva the opportunity to redeploy cash away from the Benelux region, the firm said.

Delta Lloyd's share price has increased by 19pc since it was floated at an offer price of 16 euros per ordinary share in November 2009.

However, its share price took a knock after Aviva's announcement.

As part of the announcement, Aviva said, following a successful 2010, it continued to focus on profitability and capital, 'managing new business flows in a disciplined way, and driving further value from its existing operations'.

It said the Group expected operating profitability for its quarter one, up to March 31, to be in line with its expec- tations. Life and pensions new business volumes were expected to be in line with the fourth quarter of 2010 and about 10-15pc lower than in the first quarter of 2010. This was due to focus on developing profitablity in the US and strong business in Italy in the first quarter of 2010.

The group said it expects overall general insurance net written premiums to continue to increase, building on the momentum seen in 2010.