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Aviva/Friends Life merger: successful?

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Last Friday, the merger of Aviva and Friends Life was rubber stamped in Guernsey, with the shares now listing under the single Aviva brand.

Shares in the new unified insurance giant were well-received by the London Stock Exchange on its first day of trading. Aviva shares had risen nearly 1.71 per cent (to 564.50p) by the afternoon; analysts at Barclays upgraded their rating to ‘overweight’, on the basis that the merger “significantly strengthens Aviva’s balance sheet, and improves the group’s cash generation capabilities.”

“We believe Friends Life to be an underappreciated, highly cash generative asset with an over-capitalised balance sheet, and little gearing,” the Barclays research note continued.

The successful completion of the merger, and launch of the new entity, follows positive news last month that both firms achieved annual profits last year that surpassed analysts’ forecasts. The achievement of the deal will result in revenues of almost £50m for the banks and brokers that assisted in it, which includes Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and RBC Capital Markets.

As part of the merger, the new partnership will undertake a cost-cutting initiative designed to save £223m annually, which will necessitate cutting over 1,500 jobs.


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