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‘Blood on the trading floor’ as Aviva dives 14%

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Blue chip insurer Aviva's shares have fallen 14% after the group revealed a £3bn loss in 2012 caused by a huge writedown in its US business.

The company – famed for its adverts using comedian Paul Whitehouse – topped the list of fallers on the FTSE 100, down 13.5% currently at 311.1p, having fallen as low as 303.5p – or over 15% – initially.

The dive in the share price came after the group reported the huge loss, which was caused by a writedown of £3.3bn from the sale of its US business last year.

The group also slashed its final dividend by 44% from 16p to 9p per share and from 26p to 19p for the full year, a cut of 27%.

Aviva’s Mark Wilson, group chief executive officer, said 2012 had been a ‘transition’ year for the group, but investors were spooked, nonetheless.

John Truong, senior trader at Accendo Markets, said: “[There is] blood on the trading floor this morning with Aviva gapping down over 15% on the open.”

However, Truong added the fall looks overdone and the shares now look attractive.

“A 15% move seems harsh and severely overdone. At 19p, the dividend yield is still over 6% at these prices. I would be snapping these up for a bounce and the longer-term yield.”

As well as slashing its dividend, Aviva’s operating profit was down slightly on the 2011 figure of £1.86bn to £1.78bn, partly due to the adverse foreign exchange impact of £65m.

Aviva Investors, the fund management arm of the business, contributed £42m in operating profit, excluding the contribution from the US based business, a slight fall from £53m.

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