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Aviva to buy Irish insurer Friends First

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Aviva’s announced it’s struck a £116m deal to acquire Friends First, a move which would make it one of the biggest insurers in Ireland.

Friends First Life Assurance Company currently has around 250,000 customers offering life protection, pension and investment products for individuals and companies.

Owned by Dutch insurer Achmea Holding NV, it has been operating in Ireland for over 180 years. It has a 6% market share.

The planned move by Aviva – subject to regulatory approval – would see the group become one of the largest insurers in Ireland, with its market share increasing to 15%. It already has a leading 15% market share in general insurance.

The €130m cash consideration from Aviva comes as it said the Irish economy has experienced a robust recovery in recent years and the prospects for continued growth remain strong.

The life insurance market in Ireland has grown by c.9% since 2014 and Aviva Ireland reported an operating profit growth of 12% in the first half of 2017.

It added the transaction is in line with its strategy to allocate capital in selected markets where it has scale or competitive advantage, and where it can expand its range of life and general insurance products.

Aviva confirmed there’s no change for customers at this time. The transaction is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2018.

Maurice Tulloch, CEO of Aviva International Insurance, said: “Friends First is a natural fit for Aviva Ireland. The acquisition will enhance Aviva Ireland’s product offering and accelerate our international growth agenda. It makes sense financially, strategically and for our customers.

John Quinlan, CEO of Aviva Ireland, added: “Friends First expertise in the area of income protection and group risk, in particular, will complement and strengthen the broad range of insurance products we offer our customers.”

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