Aviva share price steady as Norwegian fund backs Friends Life deal
The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund has significantly increased its stakes in Aviva Plc (LON:AV) and Friends Life Group (LON:FLG) since the £5.1 merger between the two companies was unveiled at the end of last year, the Financial Times has reported. Norway’s $860 billion oil fund has bought about £100 million worth of shares in the two FTSE 100 insurers.
Aviva’s share price has added about 0.3 percent in London so far today, outperforming the broader market, with the FTSE 100 index having lost just under one percent in morning trading. Friends Life’s share price is also about 0.3 percent up.
The FT yesterday reported that Norway’s oil fund had joined the ranks of Friends Life’s 10 largest shareholders having increased its stake in the insurer by 70 percent. The fund also raised its holding in Aviva by more than half. After increasing its stake in Friends to 2.3 percent and in Aviva to one percent, the wealth fund holds about £256 million worth of shares in the two London-listed insurers.
Aviva and Friends Life agreed a merger deal last month which values the takeover target at £5.6 billion. (Aviva share price: Insurer agrees merger deal terms with Friends Life) Not all investors have welcomed the tie-up, with Capital Group, one of Aviva’s largest institutional shareholders, slashing its holding in the FTSE 100 insurer by more than two thirds last month.
The FT reported that Mark Wilson, Aviva’s chief executive, and his counterpart at Friends Life Andy Briggs had been on a roadshow to convince investors of the merits of the tie-up. The approval of both companies’ shareholders will be required to finalise the deal.
As of 10:44 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January, Aviva plc share price is 492.20p.