Threadneedle Sells Aviva Stake Before Investor Vote on Friends

Threadneedle Asset Management Ltd. sold most of its stake in Aviva Plc before shareholders approved the U.K. insurer’s takeover of Friends Life Group Plc.

Threadneedle, once among Aviva’s top 20 shareholders, owned 1.6 percent when the deal with Friends Life was announced in November. It started to sell blocks of shares March 23 before reducing its stake to 0.2 percent as of March 26, according to regulatory filings.

Threadneedle joins Capital Group Cos., owner of American Funds family, in selling out of the U.K.’s third-largest insurer by market value. Capital Group, which once owned more than 4 percent, started cutting its holdings in November and now owns 0.9 percent, filings show.

Shareholders approved Aviva’s 5.6 billion-pound ($8.3 billion) takeover of Friends Life on March 26 with the deal scheduled to be completed on April 13. A spokeswoman for London-based Threadneedle declined to comment on the sale.

Friends Life founding partners, including Clive Cowdery, also sold shares after receiving a 220 million-pound stake in Aviva when the takeover was agreed. Tuesday, they sold 30.8 million shares valued at 164 million pounds.

Threedneedle recently changed its name to Columbia Threadneedle Investments to include its U.S.-based affiliate, Columbia Management. The combined group has 324 billion pounds of assets under management.

Aviva shares have climbed 13 percent this year.

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