Insurer Aviva sells U.S. unit for $1.8 billion

LONDON Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:21am EST

LONDON Dec 21 (Reuters) - Aviva, Britain's No. 2 insurer, said it had agreed to sell its operation in the United States for $1.8 billion, the biggest disposal so far in a retrenchment aimed at boosting its underperforming share price.

Aviva USA Corporation, a provider of life insurance and annuities, is being bought by Athene Holding, an insurance holding company majority owned by private equity firm Apollo, Aviva said on Friday.

The sale forms part of a plan launched by Aviva in July to sell or close 16 businesses that tie up over a third of the insurer's capital while contributing just 18 percent of operating profit.

Aviva shares were 1.1 percent higher at 1020 GMT, outperforming the FTSE 100 share index, which was down 0.8 percent.

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