British insurer Aviva will restructure its British business and cut costs across the firm with the loss of 1,800 jobs globally as it new chief executive seeks to make the business more competitive.
Insider Maurice Tulloch took over as CEO in March, amid investor concern that the insurer, which provides pensions as well as car and home insurance, was failing to cross-sell its products successfully.
Aviva is also facing increased competition from German insurance giant Allianz, which last week did two deals potentially valued at over 800 million pounds ($1 billion) to cement its position as the country’s second biggest general insurer.
Aviva said it would bring costs down by 300 million pounds a year over the next three years, in a statement on Thursday ahead of its first investor day under Tulloch.
“Today is the first step in our plan to make Aviva simpler, more competitive and more commercial,” Tulloch said in the statement. “Reducing Aviva’s costs is essential.”
Aviva employs 30,000 people and its international markets include Canada, France, Ireland and Asia.
British union Unite reacted angrily to the global job cuts, saying they had arranged “urgent discussions” with management.
But Aviva’s shares responded positively to the strategy changes, rising 1.7% to make them the second biggest gainer in the FTSE 100. The shares have risen 12% this year, recouping half of last year’s losses.
Panmure analyst Barrie Cornes said Aviva’s shares were “fundamentally undervalued,” reiterating the firm’s buy recommendation on the stock.
Aviva said it would focus on cutting central costs, as well as consultants and project expenditure.
The cost base in 2018 was four billion pounds, an Aviva spokeswoman said, making a planned annual cost reduction by 2022 of 7.5%.
Following the departure in April of Andy Briggs, head of the life and general insurer’s UK business and a contender for the top job, Aviva had said it would review that business.
It has split the UK life business away from general insurance, it said on Thursday.
Angela Darlington has been appointed interim Chief Executive Officer of UK life and Colm Holmes CEO of general insurance across the group, including Britain.
The UK digital business, housed in a former garage in the City’s tech district, will be incorporated into the UK general insurance business, it said.
Aviva said trading to date had been in line with 2018 and reiterated its commitment to a progressive dividend policy. ($1 = 0.7890 pounds)