Aviva exploring options for Asia unit as turnaround plans take shape

Aviva Plc confirmed it’s examining options for its Asian business as new Chief Executive Officer Maurice Tulloch’s turnaround of the U.K.’s only insurance conglomerate takes shape.

The firm confirmed earlier reports on the Asian unit, while giving no further detail as part of its half-year earnings. Bloomberg News reported earlier this month that the Asian assets could be valued at about $3 billion to $4 billion.

Operating profit climbed 1% to 1.45 billion pounds ($1.76 billion) in the first half of 2019, according to a statement on Thursday, slightly ahead of a company-compiled consensus forecast.

Tulloch, who took over in March, is seeking to turn around Aviva after years of stagnation. The shares have slumped more than 30% since the firm bought Friends Life Group Ltd. in 2015, a deal that increased the company’s share of the pensions market but added complexity to the group.

Operating expenses were 2% higher at 1.96 billion pounds, as it begins work on Tulloch’s goal to cut 300 million pounds a year by 2022. Tulloch has pledged to reduce headcount by 1,800.

Aviva raised its interim dividend to 9.5 pence from 9.25 pence a year ago.

Aviva gave no update on its new chief financial officer. The insurer announced in June that Jason Windsor would act as a stopgap CFO following the departure of Tom Stoddard.

Tulloch will update the market with his plans for Aviva’s international business at an investor day in November.