Aviva is in talks with several financial planning dealerships with a view to taking an equity stake, a company spokesperson said yesterday.

The group already has several equity deals and alliances with a number of dealer groups and is expected to sign up more this year. In a statement released yesterday Aviva said it was seeking such distribution arrangements to “enhance future sales volumes across both life and Navigator products”. Last year the firmed upped its stake in Professional Investment Holdings, the company which owns the Professional Investment Services (PIS) dealer group, to 25 per cent and also took a similar interest in another Queensland-based dealer Financial Technology Securities (along with non-bank lending group Wide Bay which also bought a 25 per cent share in the business). Both PIS and Financial Technology Securities are big users of Navigator, with PIS understood to be its largest single client. At the time of the Financial Technology Securities deal last August, Allan Griffiths, Aviva CEO, said: “;I’m very excited by the opportunity this investment provides. Our Navigator platform has been an integral part of Financial Technology’s business since it began, so the whole team knows each other well.” As well as its equity partnerships Aviva also funded the Financial Wisdom breakaway dealer group Meritum with a loan package and may also consider similar arrangements in the future. “We’re keeping a broad-minded approach,” the Aviva spokesperson said. However, he said its equity partners are under no compulsion to use Navigator or any other Aviva products. “Over the years Navigator has positioned itself as ‘home of the independents’ and we are not seeking to control distribution.” In its results announced yesterday, Aviva reported a 26 per cent increase in Navigator sales over the 2005 calendar year with more than $2 billion flowing to the platform. As well, Aviva’s Australian funds management arm Portfolio Partners recorded a 266 per cent increase in its 2005 pre-tax profit to A$10.4 million with funds under management increasing 20 per cent to A$10 billion. Portfolio Partners has been reporting directly to Aviva’s UK funds management business Morley for 18 months rather than to Griffiths in Australia. Overall, Aviva Australia recorded a 31 per cent increase in its pre-tax profit of $160 million, up from $122 million in the previous year. As well as boosts to its investment and platform business the Aviva life insurance arm also reported a 120 per cent increase in sales.

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