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Insurer Aviva exits three Spanish JVs in hunt for higher profits
May 10, 2017 / 9:40 AM / in 3 months

Insurer Aviva exits three Spanish JVs in hunt for higher profits

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LONDON (Reuters) - British insurer Aviva (AV.L) has sold its stake in three Spanish joint ventures for 475 million euros ($517.23 million), it said on Wednesday, as part of efforts to focus on more profitable markets.

Aviva has already sold part of its French business this year, and is conducting a strategic review of its operations in Taiwan. Its core markets include Britain and Canada.

The sale of a 50 percent stake in life insurance and pension joint ventures Unicorp Vida and Caja España Vida, and retail life insurance business Aviva Vida y Pensiones, were all to Santalucía, Aviva said in a statement.

The deal, part of a strategic review of its Spanish operations, was done at an attractive price and was "a strong outcome for Aviva", Chief Executive Mark Wilson said.

"It highlights our absolute focus on allocating capital effectively across the group and further strengthens our capital and liquidity position," he said.

The deal price was roughly 1.5 times Aviva's share of the 2016 IFRS net asset value of the businesses, and 12 times its share of 2016 earnings after tax, Aviva said. It remains subject to regulatory approvals and should close in the fourth quarter.

It leaves Aviva's Spanish unit with stakes in life insurance joint ventures with Caja Granada and Cajamurcia, both part of Banco Mare Nostrum, and Pelayo Group.

"Following today's announcement, Aviva is left with a couple of JVs in Spain that make operating earnings of 25 million to 30 million pounds, pre minorities and pretax," JPMorgan analyst Ashik Musaddi said in a note to clients.

"This, in our view, is in line with market speculation that (the) Spanish businesses could be worth around 700 million euros in total," he added, reaffirming an 'overweight' rating and 536 pence price target.

At 0839 GMT, shares in Aviva were up 0.7 percent at 539.3 pence a share, outperforming a flat FTSE 100 .FTSE index.

Panmure Gordon analyst Barrie Cornes said in a note to clients the deal should be welcomed by shareholders, flagging a 'buy' rating on the stock and 592 pence price target.

"We believe that a combination of Aviva's self-help program, current valuation and attractive dividend yield should see the share price rise in the short to medium term."

Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong; editing by Susan Thomas

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