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Aviva continues international withdrawal with £2.8bn sale of French business

PA Media logo PA Media 23/02/2021 By August Graham, PA City Reporter
Amanda Blanc wearing a dress shirt and tie: Aviva boss Amanda Blanc has led an effort to slim down the business (Aviva/PA) © Provided by PA Media Aviva boss Amanda Blanc has led an effort to slim down the business (Aviva/PA)

Insurance giant Aviva has sold off its French unit as part of a global retreat to focus on its core markets in the UK, Ireland and Canada.

The 3.2 billion euro (£2.8 billion) transaction will see Aviva France transfer into the ownership of Aema Groupe, a new company which was formed through a merger earlier this year.

It is the latest deal that new chief executive Amanda Blanc has pushed through in just seven months since she took the top job.

Last autumn the business sold off its Vietnamese unit, as well as an Italian arm in November for £355 million and the Singapore business for £1.6 billion two months earlier.

According to Bloomberg, Aviva is currently also in talks to sell a second business in Italy.

Ms Blanc has continued the legacy of predecessor Maurice Tulloch, who sold off the business’s Hong Kong operations during his short period in charge.

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Mr Tulloch stood down in July for “family health reasons” after just over a year in the post.

His successor said on Tuesday that the French deal is a “very significant milestone in the delivery of our strategy”.

She added: “The transaction will increase Aviva’s financial strength, remove significant volatility and bring real focus to the group.

“Aema Groupe has a strong heritage in the French insurance industry and this transaction will propel it to a top five position in the French market.

“I am confident Aema Groupe will be an excellent owner of Aviva France.”

Aema serves eight million customers and was formed in January this year when Aesio and Macif combined.

Employees at Aviva France will transfer with the business to the new ownership, and Aviva France will continue to operate as a standalone part of Aema Groupe.

Global insurance companies have been making dozens of deals in recent years, as the industry was facing pressures even before the pandemic.

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