Aviva chief says UK should ‘stop talking ourselves down’ as companies shun London listings

Aviva’s chief government Amanda Blanc has referred to as on UK firms and policymakers to “cease speaking ourselves down” as anxiousness grows about an exodus from the London inventory market. 

The choice of teams equivalent to chipmaker Arm and constructing supplies large CRH to go for listings in New York has fed concern in regards to the decline of the UK’s capital markets. This week, Authorized & Normal boss Sir Nigel Wilson lamented the “perpetual drift” away from the Metropolis. UK policymakers and regulators have additionally shared their considerations a few rash of delistings.

“We wish the UK to achieve success and I feel we should always cease speaking ourselves down,” Blanc instructed the Monetary Occasions, after the publication of the corporate’s full-year outcomes.

“For me, I do consider we’ve got lots of the part components within the UK, and we simply must get out of our personal means and really begin delivering on among the stuff that we stated we’d do,” she added.

Blanc highlighted the federal government’s deliberate overhaul of insurance coverage solvency guidelines, which the business hopes will unlock £100bn of funding in UK infrastructure. The UK financial system would profit from “a little bit of confidence”, she added. 

Aviva’s shares rose 3 per cent by lunchtime in London after its full-year working income of £2.2bn got here in forward of analyst expectations, pushed by a superb efficiency by its UK life enterprise and adjustments in longevity assumptions.

The insurer’s year-end solvency stage additionally beat consensus estimates, clearing the way in which for the corporate to announce a contemporary £300mn share buyback. Aviva additionally improved its future dividend steering, with it now anticipating low-to-mid single-digit development within the money value of the dividend after the £915mn that ought to be returned in respect of this 12 months.

Within the outcomes assertion, Blanc highlighted that this took the full capital return to shareholders to greater than £5bn since 2021. That was the quantity initially pushed for by Cevian, the activist shareholder that took a stake in Aviva that 12 months, changing into one in all its largest shareholders. It has now decreased its stake under 5 per cent. 

Cevian companion Niko Pakalén stated Aviva’s administration had carried out a wonderful job restructuring the corporate and that the day’s bulletins confirmed a “sturdy begin” to the following part of “delivering on Aviva’s full long-term potential”.

One space the corporate is counting on for future development is the marketplace for company pension offers, the place companies pay to switch their pension liabilities to an insurer. Rising rates of interest have made such offers doable for a swath of pension schemes.

Aviva did 50 offers for schemes in 2022, value a complete of £4bn, and expects to finish offers value £15bn to £20bn in complete by 2024. However Blanc stated the insurer “wouldn’t be ready to enter right into a pricing struggle” as suppliers compete fiercely for enterprise.

Elsewhere, situations in Aviva’s asset administration enterprise are anticipated to stay “difficult” amid uneven markets. However the group’s basic insurance coverage enterprise managed to show an underwriting revenue, once more consistent with analyst forecasts, regardless of the risk from inflation driving up claims prices.

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