The FCA has publicly censured Aviva for a breach of listing and transparency rules, after the insurance firm made an announcement that had the potential to mislead the market.
Aviva’s announcement, which occurred on 8 March 2018, concerned the firm’s preliminary year-end results and gave the impression it intended to take action to cancel at par value certain preference shares.
Preference shares were trading above their par value at the time, therefore the statement caused concern that holders would incur losses on cancellation.
Aviva clarified the statement and provided a payment scheme for those shareholders affected, and the FCA has found the firm’s breach to be “serious but not intentional”.
Mark Steward, the FCA’s executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “This was a significant oversight by Aviva that confused the market for preference shares.
“Firms must ensure that announcements to the market are clear and not misleading. But for Aviva’s prompt clarification and the payment scheme, this case could have led to a financial penalty.”
A spokesperson for Aviva said: “Aviva accepts this decision. This 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.”