Aviva buys Friends First for €130m

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - JOE BREN­NAN

Dutch fi­nan­cial group Ach­mea is poised to ex­tract €220 mil­lion from its move to sell Friends First, the Ir­ish life as­sur­ance, pen­sions and in­vest­ment firm, to Aviva.

UK in­surer Aviva con­firmed yes­ter­day that it has agreed to buy Friends First, the Ir­ish life as­sur­ance, pen­sions and in­vest­ment firm, for €130 mil­lion in cash.

How­ever, Ach­mea said sep­a­rately that its to­tal pro­ceeds should rise to €220mil­lion. This in­cludes up to €90 mil­lion of div­i­dends, or ex­cess cap­i­tal, be­ing paid by Friends First to the Dutch group by the time the deal is ex­pected to com­plete in the first quar­ter of next year.

On com­ple­tion of the trans­ac­tion, Aviva’s Ir­ish busi­ness will have 15 per cent shares of the life in­sur­ance and gen­eral in­sur­ance mar­kets in Ire­land, Aviva said in a state­ment. A spokes­woman for Aviva Ire­land said the com­pany ex­pects to have a lim­ited vol­un­tary re­dun­dancy scheme af­ter the deal closes as there will be du­pli­ca­tions of roles among the com­bined 1,530 staff.

Job losses

“We don’t ex­pect many jobs will be lost. There will also be lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties for re­de­ploy­ment as this is a grow­ing busi­ness,” the spokes­woman said, adding that Aviva will be­gin iden­ti­fy­ing po­ten­tial sav­ings in the com­ing months.

Friends First em­ploys 330 peo­ple and has more than 250,000 cus­tomers. Aviva Ire­land, which posted 12 per cent op­er­at­ing profit growth in the first half of the year to €48 mil­lion, has 1,200 staff and al­most one mil­lion cus­tomers.

“Friends First is a nat­u­ral fit for Aviva Ire­land,” said Mau­rice Tul­loch, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Aviva In­ter­na­tional In­sur­ance. “The ac­qui­si­tion will en­hance Aviva Ire­land’s prod­uct of­fer­ing and ac­cel­er­ate our in­ter­na­tional growth agenda.” Aviva Ire­land chief ex­ec­u­tive John Quin­lan said the deal will make the com­pany the “lead­ing in­surer for bro­kers in the Ir­ish mar­ket”.

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