Aviva might benefit from an agitator but the risk is over-reach | Nils Pratley

Aviva might benefit from an agitator but the risk is over-reach | Nils Pratley

Cevian’s call for more capital to be returned is beyond what most City analysts think possible

An activist investor would have been very useful at Aviva for most of the insurer’s 20-odd years of existence, frustrated shareholders will feel. Outside the banking sector, it’s hard to think of a major UK financial services company that has disappointed its investors so often, or showered such large rewards for failure on its chief executives. The share price is less than half what it was at the time of formation via a three-way merger at the turn of century.

The activist that Aviva has finally attracted is Cevian Capital, which has turned up with an £800m, or 5%, stake just at the moment when Amanda Blanc, chief executive since last July, seems to be the first boss with a decent plan.

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