UK insurer Aviva to acquire US equity manager, River Rock

Aviva plc, the world's fifth largest insurance group and the largest in the UK, yesterday unveiled plans to acquire US equity manager River Road Asset Management, which has $3.6 billion assets under management, for an undisclosed sum.

Aviva Investors, the group's asset management arm with $364 billion under management, will buy the Louisville, Kentucky-based company, which has gross assets of $6 million.

Aviva, which entered the US market by acquiring AmerUs group, a financial services company in 2006 for £1.6 billion, hopes to boost its institutional business in the US with the acquisition of River Road.

''This acquisition supports the expansion of Aviva Investors' third party institutional asset management business by combining its existing expertise in fixed income in North America with River Road's equity investment capability, said Aviva in a statement.

Alain Dromer, chief executive of Aviva Investors, said, ''In River Road, we have found a top-quality equity management business with an impressive track record. It has an experienced team, a strong customer focus and a scalable operating model. River Road will contribute significantly to our plans to increase our third-party institutional business and will help us provide our clients with a broader range of investment solutions.''

Aviva, based in London and listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in October, has been conserving cash by slashing dividends to make acquisitions globally to expand its business in the US and the fast growing Asian market.