Aviva is a relatively new transnational corporation that started its international expansion during the last decade through a series of mergers, acquisitions, and strategic alliances such as bancassurance joint ventures. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Aviva is the world’s fifth-largest insurance group, has 57,000 employees, and serves around 45 million customers. With a corporate lineage that dates back to 1696, Aviva’s main activities are long-term savings, fund management, and health and general insurance. Known as Aviva since July 2002, the corporation brought together more than 40 different brands and operates in 27 countries, including the United Kingdom (UK), France, Canada, the United States, China, India, Russia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, and Romania.
Aviva is currently creating a new worldwide financial services brand that is expected to be completed by April 2010. The corporation’s vision “One Aviva, twice the value” suggests the top management’s strategic objective to gain recognition as a world-class financial services provider and maximize Aviva’s full potential as a transnational corporation. To fulfill this objective, Aviva enters new markets through acquisition and then brings together relatively autonomous business units. Thus, Aviva targets and gets closer to more customers in these new markets using the structures of the acquired units and deploying resources more efficiently. The corporation offers innovative products, such as “Pay as You Drive” insurance that can be sold across different regions, with a clear growth strategy. This strategy is likely to make Aviva successful in an increasingly global and competitive marketplace.
Much like other transnational corporations, such as General Motors, Aviva has different growth targets and strategies for different geographic regions, and derives a significant part of its profits from new markets. Case in point, Aviva’s chief executive Andrew Moss aims for minimum 10 percent annual average growth in new business sales and profits to 2010 in Europe, minimum 20 percent annual average growth in new business sales to 2010 in Asia and the Pacific, and 100 percent growth in new business sales in Aviva USA within three years of the acquisition. Meanwhile, the projected growth in the UK is less specific: “grow at least as fast as the market, subject to at least maintaining margins.” Likewise, regional strategies for Europe and the Asia Pacific region emphasize the benefits of scale and capture opportunities arising from increasing wealth, whereas the strategies for the UK address legacy, transformation of business model, synergies, and capital generation. According to the three-month interim management statement issued on April 25, 2008, these regionally diversified strategies seem to be successful, in that long-term savings sales (up 2 percent worldwide), as well as life and pension sales (up 5 percent), have been resilient even in the current tough economic conditions. Among other factors, this management statement attributes the sales increases to Aviva’s excellent performances in India and China, resilient performance in Europe, and attractive product design in North America, highlighting positive effects of the geographical diversity and balanced distribution.
In addition to the advantages associated with its global diversity and membership in the global business community, Aviva has drawn on collective resources and services, and increased the use of shared services to realize the benefits of scale and purchasing power. For instance, Aviva has increased efficiency of its marketing function by reducing advertising and sponsorship expenses. Corporate social responsibility efforts in areas such as employee satisfaction, sustainability, community involvement, and environmental protection have also contributed to the positive outlook of the corporation.
A pitfall of its fast international expansion is that Aviva is facing risks associated with direct foreign investment, global consistency, and the need for cultural and managerial integration. As a result of buying existing businesses in many different foreign countries and the tendency to sell similar products and run operations in the same way across these countries, Aviva may find some of these businesses to be less efficient. Aviva must maintain a balance between global consistency and local adaptation.
- Aviva, www.aviva.com (cited March 2009);
- Andrew Moss, One Aviva, Twice the Value, www.aviva.com (cited March 2009).
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