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Aviva Mistakenly Fires 1,300 Employees at Investment Unit

Aviva Mistakenly Fires All 1,300 Employees at Investment Unit
Aviva Plc, Britain's biggest property insurer. Photographer: Lloyd Sturdy via Bloomberg

Aviva Plc, the U.K.’s second-biggest insurer by market value, said the company’s investment unit mistakenly sent an e-mail dismissing its entire staff before retracting the message.

The e-mail, which was sent by the Aviva Investors human resources department to 1,300 employees globally, told recipients to turn over company property as they left the building and reminded them of their obligation to guard the firm’s confidential information, according to Paul Lockstone, spokesman for the unit of the London-based insurer.

“It was intended that this e-mail should have gone to one single person,” Lockstone said by phone. “Unfortunately, as a result of a clerical error, it was sent to all of the Investors staff worldwide.” Most people recognized immediately that the e-mail was a mistake, he said, adding, “From time to time, things go wrong.”

The human resources department issued an apology “fairly quickly” after the message was sent, Lockstone said. The e-mail is part of the company’s administration process when people leave the organization, he said. News of the mistake was reported earlier today by the Daily Telegraph.

Aviva has been scaling back its asset-management business as the European debt crisis and the deteriorating U.K. economy crimps sales. The insurer said in January it would cut 160 jobs at the unit. Some of the employees affected by that process still haven’t departed, Lockstone said.

Shares of Aviva gained 2 percent to 305.5 pence in London today. The insurer has increased 1.6 percent this year.

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