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Aviva withdraws plans to cancel preference shares

Aviva Plc is withdrawing plans to cancel preference shares issued by the company and General Accident Plc, after receiving "strong feedback and criticism" from investors and queries from regulators.

The British insurance group said March 8 that it would return more than £500 million of capital to shareholders, including through the cancellation at par value of preference shares that will no longer count as regulatory capital in 2026. The company now said it will instead work toward obtaining regulatory approval for the preference shares, or a suitable substitute, to qualify as capital from 2026.

Aviva noted that should it have to reconsider this position as it approaches 2026, it will take into account the preference shares' fair market value at that time.

The firm said it is still in a "strong financial position" and maintains plans to deploy £3 billion of excess cash in 2018 and 2019 to reduce hybrid debt, fund bolt-on acquisitions and repurchase ordinary shares.