Aviva has some work to do to finalise deal - Editor’s Letter

David Hellier
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Aviva boss Mark Wilson
Panmure Gordon, the indepen­dent stockbroking firm, made a name for itself last year when one of its analysts calculated the government was planning to sell the Royal Mail at £1bn less than what the firm thought it was worth. Sub­sequent events showed Panmure had been right to be bullish on the firm’s valuation, at least in the short-term.

Being relatively free from commercial conflicts is a big advantage for firms such as Panmure (in this inst­ance it was not part of the group that was trying to sell the shares in Royal Mail to the public).

Yesterday, Barrie Cornes, its well respected insurance analyst, became the first to question the merits of the planned Aviva tie-up with Friends Life, announced last Friday. Cornes says the £5.6bn deal is not in line with Aviva’s stated policy of being less UK focused and fears it is planning to pay ftoo much. It will be interesting to see the market’s reaction, but my instinct is this transaction is far from being a done deal.

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