Aviva merges fund houses into $623 billion empire

Morley and Portfolio Partners will cease to exist as a dozen previously autonomous fund businesses are merged into one group called Aviva Investors.
UK insurer Aviva says it is merging a dozen of the fund houses that it owns around the globe into one new consolidated label û Aviva Investors.

The new fund brand will consolidate Morley, Aviva Capital Management, MFM International, Aviva Investment Canada, Aviva Gestion dÆActifs, Portfolio Partners, CUIM Polska, Hibernian Investment Managers, Aviva Gestion SGIIC (Gestora) and CertInvest. Delta Lloyd Asset Management in the Netherlands will remain a partner of the group.

The mergers are expected to unlock the groupÆs strength in investment manufacturing and distribution, building a differentiated brand and performance over the longer term.

The re-branding exercise is expected to be completed by September 2008, subject to regulatory approval. The newly combined business will span across 15 countries, including the UK, the US, Canada, France, Australia, Poland, Ireland, Spain, Romania, Singapore and China. The move will bring 1,300 employees under one umbrella. A total of $623 billion in assets under management previously run under the independent labels will be combined.

ôThe asset management side of our business is a hugely important business for us. Historically, we've had a dozen asset management businesses around the globe working pretty separately, not talking to each other very much,ö says Andrew Moss, group CEO of Aviva in UK. ôIt is very important to me that we manage that in a more globally integrated way and thatÆs exactly what weÆre going to do with this move to Aviva Investors.ö

The autonomous investment teams will be re-modelled into a new global investment solutions team. Specialisations in quantitative, index, convertibles, asset allocation and structured products will be shared across the group to generate portfolio outperformance.

ôWe have a very diverse client base which we want to develop even further. Our decision to specialise and focus our investment teams satisfies the requirements of those clients who want to build portfolios themselves and those who expect us to devise new solutions for their needs,ö says Alain Dromer, new global CEO of Aviva Investors in London.

"Our business will require our people to embrace a very different perspective: one of a single business with a global outlook and specialist expertise; one where pace, accountability and collaboration across borders will deliver superior investment solutions,ö Dromer adds.

In Asia-Pacific, AvivaÆs Morley brand currently operates in China, Singapore and Taiwan; Portfolio Partners runs its Australian fund business. The Aviva group has reported a 60% growth in overall sales in Asia. Moss says around 11% of the groupÆs sales can be attributed to the region.

ôThe overall economies of that region at the moment have looked relatively unaffected by more global economic concerns. So we've seen some exceptional growth in some of our businesses,ö Moss says. In China, in particular, sales revenue grew by 200% last year. ôWe are prioritising investment in that Asia-Pacific business,ö he adds.

Prior to joining Aviva in 2007, Dromer was a former head of group investment business at HSBC; he was brought into the group from HSBCÆs acquisition of Credit Commercial de France in 2001. Dromer was reputed to have transformed HSBC as an asset management power house by aggressively acquiring and integrating boutique management firms and private banksÆ investment platforms into the group.

According to HSBC, in the five years of DromerÆs reign between 2001 and 2006, assets under management in HSBCÆs group investment business rose from $123 billion to $328 billion. In the single year of 2006, net operating income rose 45% to $1.1 billion. Dromer was hired by Moss, also a former employee of HSBC, with a mandate to create and lead a global fund management business for Aviva in 2007.

Under the new structure, senior executives will be grouped in an executive team. Craig Bingham, chief executive of Portfolio Partners in Australia, will be appointed chief executive officer for Asia-Pacific. Greg Boal, current president of Aviva Capital Management, will be chief executive officer, Aviva Investors North America. Siobhan Boyland, chief financial officer of Morley, is now global chief financial officer for Aviva Investors.

Richard Field, director of investments for Norwich Union Life, will be director of global investment solutions. MorleyÆs interim CIO, Adrian Jarvis, will take up FieldÆs responsibilities until Field completes his transfer. Chris Oglethorpe, managing director of human resources and communications at Morley, will be global chief operating officer. Lastly, Ian Womack, managing director for property at Morley, has been appointed managing director Aviva Investors Global Property.

Aviva is currently the fifth largest insurance group in the world with $723.6 billion of assets under management. Last year, its total sales from savings, fund management and general insurance totalled $97.8 billion.
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