Aviva CEO Says Sales of French, Other Units Are in Early Stages

Aviva Plc Chief Executive Officer Amanda Blanc confirmed the company was in talks to sell units in France, Poland and Italy as part of her overhaul of the insurance giant.

The company is still in the “early stages for considering our options,” and there is currently “no set time frame” for any sales, Blanc said in an interview Thursday following a third-quarter operating update. Aviva was also reviewing joint ventures in India, China and Turkey, according to a spokesperson.

Blanc’s appointment in August marked a shift in strategy as she announced that Aviva would focus on its strongest units in the U.K., Ireland and Canada, and consider options for its remaining regions. The company has since sold control of its Singapore business and exited one of its Italian ventures, and was reported to be pursuing a sale of its French unit.

“We have made a good start in simplifying the group,” Blanc said in the interview.

The firm said on Thursday that dividends are likely to grow by “low to mid-single digits” and it will return excess capital once a debt leverage goal of less than 30% has been reached and solvency levels are above target. Aviva announced in August it was reviewing its dividend policy as part of a broader look at its operations.

The company’s shares were down 1.1% at 9:04 a.m. in London.

Investors have long called for more decisive change at Aviva and were disappointed by the strategy put forward in 2019 by Blanc’s predecessor Maurice Tulloch, who left after spending just over a year in the top seat. Blanc early on suggested a more urgent approach after the firm’s shares have underperformed the benchmark FTSE 100 Index over the past 5 years.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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