Aviva to buy life assurance firm Friends First for €130m

The €130m deal would see Aviva become one of the largest insurers in Ireland

Aviva to buy life assurance firm Friends First for €130m

Pictured in 2011 is the Aviva office at One Park Place, Hatch Street in Dublin | Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Aviva Ireland says it is to acquire Friends First Life Assurance Company.

The €130m deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, would see Aviva become one of the largest composite insurers in Ireland.

Its market share in life insurance would grow to 15%, alongside its existing 15% market share in general insurance.

Aviva says the sale is in line with its strategy to allocate capital in selected markets "where it has scale or competitive advantage".

It says the Irish economy has experienced "a robust recovery" in recent years, and the prospects for continued growth remain strong.

"The life insurance market has grown by circa 9% since 2014.

"Aviva Ireland has demonstrated consistent growth over the past few years, with an operating profit growth at HY 2017 of 12% to €48m", the company says.

Friends First, which is currently owned by Dutch insurer Achmea Holding NV, has been operating in Ireland for over 180 years with a focus on life protection, pension and investment products.

It has over 250,000 customers and a market share of 6%.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

Maurice Tulloch, CEO Aviva International Insurance, said: "Friends First is a natural fit for Aviva Ireland.

"The acquisition will enhance Aviva Ireland’s product offering and accelerate our international growth agenda.

"It makes sense financially, strategically and for our customers.

"Our Irish business has been among the best performers in the Aviva group over the last couple of years.

"This acquisition underlines Aviva’s disciplined approach to deploying capital into bolt-on acquisitions that meet our strict financial criteria and strengthen our businesses."

John Quinlan, CEO Aviva Ireland, added: "I look forward to welcoming the Friends First employees to the Aviva group.

"Friends First is an excellent business and will be a great addition to Aviva Ireland.

"Their expertise in the area of income protection and group risk, in particular, will complement and strengthen the broad range of insurance products we offer our customers."

Aviva Ireland employs 1,200 across three locations in Dublin, Galway and Cork.