AVIVA, BRITAIN'S largest insurer, is on the lookout for international joint venture partners as it laid out ambitious plans to increase overseas sales by "at least 10% a year" over the next five years, reports The Times .
According to the paper, the insurer, which earlier this year embarked on abortive takeover talks with its rival the Prudential, said it also wanted to strike deals with partners to distribute its life insurance products in other countries.
Aviva said it will not need to raise fresh capital to fund its expansion drive, and has set itself the target of making profits rise at least as quickly as sales.
This is the first time Aviva has set itself a specific goal in terms of achieving international sales growth, according to the Times.
The insurer, which also said it planned to expand its general insurance business internationally, maintained its group-wide aim of "meeting or beating" a combined operating ratio of 98%. The combined ratio is a measure of an insurer's efficiency while the lower the percentage the more efficient the company is.
FOUR OF GARTMORE’S most senior managers have been ousted from the group following its management buyout, reports The Daily Telegraph, as sources said there had been unrest about who had power under the new structure.
Charles Beazley, the group's hedge fund head, Roger Bartley, the former head of fixed income, Jon Thornton, head of UK equities, and Philip Ehrmann, head of Pacific and emerging markets, will depart within two months following the reshuffle.
Beazley, who spearheaded the institutional growth of Gartmore's hedge fund business, is believed to have received a payout of around £250,000, while Bartley, who worked for Gartmore for 14 years, is understood to be poised to join insurers Legal & General as the head of fixed income.
Gartmore's ownership is now split between American private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, which has a 51% stake, and around 30 Gartmore staff. The group includes the new management team - chief executive Jeff Meyer, the newly appointed head of distribution Paul Feeney and chief operating officer Les Aitkenhead, plus Roger Guy, the company's star hedge fund manager.
Meyer said the four redundancies were part of a new "streamlined and nimble" structure, in which the group's alternative, institutional and retail products would be sold through one distributional division. He said the departing staff had all been "strong executives and portfolio managers". None of the four departing managers has been given a restraint of trade.
Gartmore plans to merge its two emerging markets teams and the combined team will be led by Chris Palmer, latterly the head of its Latin America and developing markets funds, while Meyer said it will also invest further in the fixed income business.
THE GROWTH IN house prices and mortgage lending has slowed and consumer confidence has slipped, according to surveys released yesterday and highlighted in the Financial Times.
A study of retailers from the CBI employers' body found their confidence at its highest in 18 months, helped by a pre-World Cup surge in sales of flat-screen televisions. But taken together with the latest house price and consumer confidence research, the data points to a slightly weaker outlook for the parts of the economy affected most by household expenditure.
Nationwide, the building society, said "accelerating house prices should not be taken for granted" after reporting that its measure of annual house price inflation edged down to 4.7% in May from a level of 5.3% in March. The survey has now shown two consecutive months of very low price rises, which have halted the pick-up in annual house price inflation.
Retailers responding to the latest CBI distributive trades survey were more confident about sales levels than they had been since December 2004, with 9% more retailers reporting a rise in sales in May compared with a year earlier.
But in contrast, consumer confidence, measured by the GfK survey fell one point to 5 in May, as consumers have become more pessimistic about unemployment and marginally less positive about their finances and the likelihood they will make big purchases over the next 12 months.
Meanwhile, the Bank of England's monthly lending figures showed a small fall in the numbers of mortgage approvals in April at 106,000 compared with 114,000 in March.
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