LONDON (Reuters) - Shareholders of British insurers Aviva (>> Aviva plc) and Friends Life (>> Friends Life Group Ltd) voted on Thursday in favour of Aviva's 5.6 billion pound ($8.4 billion) takeover of Friends Life.
Aviva's share price wobbled after the terms of the merger were announced late last year, as some investors and analysts worried about the size of cost savings and the marrying of a range of IT systems.
But others said the merger made sense following UK government reforms that have put increasing pressure on pensions providers.
Retirees will from next month be free to use their pension pots as they choose, rather than being obliged to buy an income-bearing annuity. Industry sales of annuities have already dropped sharply in anticipation of the new rules, to around 8 billion pounds last year.
More than 99 percent of Aviva shareholders who voted were in favour of the deal, Aviva said in a regulatory filing following an extraordinary general meeting. Aviva needed the agreement of more than 50 percent of the votes cast.
More than 90 percent of Friends Life shareholders also voted in favour, Friends Life said in a separate filing, with a majority of 75 percent required.
Friends Life said it expected its stock to delist on April 10.
Holders of Friends Life stock will receive 0.74 new Aviva shares for each Friends share.
(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Simon Jessop and Mark Potter)