Salem Radio Network News Monday, September 26, 2022

Business

Aviva plans further capital return as H1 profit rises

LONDON (Reuters) – British insurer Aviva said on Wednesday it planned to give more money back to shareholders as it posted a better-than-expected 14% rise in first-half operating profit, helped by strong performance in commercial lines.

Aviva, which has major businesses in Britain, Canada and Ireland, is under pressure from activist investor Cevian Capital, a holder of 6% of the insurer’s shares, to boost investor payouts.

Aviva has already given 4.75 billion pounds ($5.73 billion)back to shareholders after raising 7.5 billion pounds following a string of disposals around the globe since Amanda Blanc was appointed chief executive in July 2020.

Cevian has previously called on Aviva to return five billion pounds to shareholders by the end of 2022.

Aviva said it planned to launch the share buyback with its 2022 results, and the board would decide on its size at year-end.

“We are increasingly confident in Aviva’s prospects,” Blanc said in a trading statement, describing trading as “encouraging” across all the firm’s major businesses.

Operating profit rose 14% to 829 million pounds versus 742 million pounds seen in a company-supplied consensus forecast.

However, Aviva Investors’ assets under management dropped by 13% in the first half to 232 billion pounds, hit by falling markets.

Aviva said it would pay an interim dividend of 10.3 pence, in line with its full-year 2022 dividend guidance of around 31.0 pence. Cevian has said Aviva has capacity to make larger dividend payments in future.

($1 = 0.8285 pounds)

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Sinead Cruise)

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