Aviva buys Irish group protection and pension provider

Aviva is buying Irish protection and pension provider Friends First Life Assurance for £116m in a deal that will make it one of the nation’s largest composite insurers.

The acquisition will grow its market share in life and pensions to 15 per cent in the nation, which will match its 15 per cent market share in general insurance in Ireland.

Aviva says the transaction is in line with its strategy to allocate capital in selected markets where it has scale and where it can further expand its range of products across life and general insurance.

The Irish economy has experienced a robust recovery in recent years and the life insurance market in Ireland has grown by around 9 per cent a year since 2014.

Friends First is currently owned by Dutch insurer Achmea Holding NV and has been operating in Ireland for over 180 years with a focus on life protection, pension and investment products for individuals and companies. It has over 250,000 customers, a market share of 6 per cent and is a key provider of group risk and income protection.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2018.

Aviva International Insurance CEO Maurice Tulloch says: “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.”

Aviva Ireland CEO John Quinlan says: “Friends First’s 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. It will also make us the leading insurer for brokers in the Irish market.”