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Aviva faces FCA rebuke over preference shares

Aviva insurance is facing a rebuke from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) over a plan to to cancel high-yielding preference shares that angered thousands of investors.

According to Sky News, results of an enquiry made by the FCA showcasing Aviva’s plan to cancel £450m of preference shares in 2018 are close to being revealed to the public. 

A source revealed to the outlet that the regulator did not wish to impose a fine on the company, but that it was expected to deliver “pointed criticism” of its board’s handling of the situation, stating “there will be a severe slap on the wrist over the company’s governance.”

The insurance company had to cancel its decision to get rid of preference shares after its action led to a crash in the value of many stocks.

Aviva had to pay £14m in compensation to investors who sold their preference shares for less than their intended value.

When this took place, Andrew Bailey, the then FCA chief executive and now governor of the Bank of England, revealed that the watchdog was reviewing its decision in the context of whether Aviva had committed “market abuse.” 

Insiders told the outlet that an announcement from the FCA was likely to be published in the upcoming weeks 

An Aviva spokesman told Sky News: “We are not commenting on this story.

“In line with our previous comments it was a disappointing episode for which we are sorry and lessons have been learned. We recognise the uncertainty created for preference shareholders two years ago whilst we were considering our options and we subsequently made discretionary goodwill payments to impacted preference shareholders.”

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