Aviva Investors’ prospects could be strengthened significantly after rumours of a deal between its parent company and Friends Life were confirmed. With the expected transfer of Friends Life’s assets from rival managers to Aviva Investors in the event of a merger, the asset manager was highlighted as a potentially key beneficiary, as two of the UK’s largest insurers confirmed ongoing talks.Friends Life currently outsources a large amount of its asset management and, by the end of 2014, will have £12.2bn (€15.4bn) with Schroders, significant legacy mandates with AXA Investment Managers and F&C Asset Management, and around £20bn in-house.In March, Friends Life announced that it would shift equity and multi-asset mandates to Schroders from F&C, reducing F&C’s assets under management (AUM) by 17%. In a statement to the stock market, however, Aviva said the combination of itself and Friends Life would create one of the UK’s leading asset management businesses.“The transaction is expected to lead to a substantial increase in profits and assets under management at Aviva Investors through the addition, over time, of Friends Life’s [assets], materially increasing Aviva Investors’ total AUM,” Aviva said.This would help turnaround Aviva’s struggling asset management arm and could trigger a significant shift of assets away from Friends Life’s existing providers.Aviva Investors has struggled in recent years, suffering outflows and an inconsistent management structure.Current chief executive Euan Munro joined in January 2014 after two interim CEOs took charge after the sudden department of Andrew Moss in 2012.Munro has since been charged with overhauling the asset manager and introducing new products such as the AIMS multi-asset strategy.At the end of 2013, the asset manager had £241bn in AUM after suffering £5bn in net outflows over the course of the year.Mark Wilson, chief executive at Aviva, described the manager’s 3% contribution to the group’s operating profit in 2013 as “inadequate”.AUM at the company has since fallen to £234bn at the end of June.Based on the current offer and general agreement between the two boards, Aviva’s offer for Friends Life shares would see any deal reach more than £5bn.Friends Life shareholders would own 26% of the new group, and the combined business would have 16m customers in insurance and savings.In 2013, Aviva made £2.8bn in operating profit before tax, compared with Friends Life’s £436m.According to reports, the move has been triggered by changes to the at-retirement defined contribution (DC) market that saw the removal of compulsory annuitisation.Aviva and Friends Life were both major providers of individual annuities.However, Aviva shifted focus to its bulk annuities business to make up for falling sales.According to market commentators, Friends Life had been looking to move into the bulk annuity space, building up human resource from now-defunct bulk annuity providers Lucida and MetLife.Any offer for the insurer has yet to be finalised, with Aviva having until 19 December to announce a firm takeover intention.The company said there was currently no certainty the insurer would proceed with a deal.
Morocco 4 (El Kaabi 66, 80, El Haddad 72, Bencharki 90+2) Mauritania 0TeamsMorocco: Zniti; Aguerd, Jbira, Nahiri, Benoun (capt); Hadraf (Bencharki 75), Saidi, Barrahma; El Haddad, Hafidi, El Kaabi (El Karti 83)Coach: Sellami (MAR)Mauritania: Brahim; El Hacen, Wade, Bilal, Mangane; Moussa (Tanjy 77), El Id (Diop 73), Baghayoko (capt), Gaye; Khalil, El Voullany (Traore 62)Coach: Martins (FRA)Yellow cardsMauritania: El Hacen (27 minutes), Gaye (35), Baghayoko (68)Referee: Sikazwe (ZAM)Standings (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points)Morocco 1 1 0 0 4 0 3Guinea 0 0 0 0 0 0 0Sudan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0Mauritania 1 0 0 1 0 4 0Fixtures (times GMT)(Casablanca unless noted)SundayGuinea v Sudan (1430)WednesdayMorocco v Guinea (1630), Mauritania v Sudan (1930)Jan 21Morocco v Sudan (1900)At MarrakechGuinea v Mauritania (1900)Note: group winners and runners-up qualify for quarter-finalsShare on: WhatsApp Uganda Cranes plays Sunday 10.30pmSaturday: Morocco 4 Mauritania 0 | Sunday: Uganda vs ZambiaRabat, Morocco | AFP | Hosts and title favourites Morocco ran riot in the second half to defeat neighbours Mauritania 4-0 Saturday in the opening match of the 2018 African Nations Championship.Ayoub el Kaabi broke brave resistance from the Mauritanians on 66 minutes and Ismail el Haddad added a second goal six minutes later at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca.El Kaabi bagged a brace 10 minutes from time before being substituted as Morocco made an impressive start in Group A, where Guinea tackle Sudan Sunday at the same venue.Morocco started with three of 2017 CAF Champions League-winning Wydad Casablanca team, but only brought on star attackers Achraf Bencharki and Walid el Karti in the closing stages.Bencharki completed the rout with a stoppage-time goal as Morocco came within one goal of matching the record winning margin at the tournament set by Tunisia two years ago.Victory for the hosts brought a cheerful end to a sad day for Moroccan football with former star Hamid Hazzaz dying of a heart attack aged 72 just hours before the tournament began.Known as “The Spider”, Hazzaz was part of the Morocco 1970 World Cup squad and the team that won the Africa Cup of Nations for the only time six years later.A colourful opening ceremony preceded the first match and 14-year-old crown prince Moulay el Hassan got the tournament under way with a symbolic kick-off.The young royal also shook hands with each player and the match officials and posed for team pictures with the Moroccans and Mauritanians.Staged every two years, the Nations Championship is restricted to home-based footballers and the Democratic Republic of Congo (twice), Tunisia and Libya won previous editions.In other Sunday fixtures, the Ivory Coast play debutants Namibia and Zambia face Uganda in Group B in Marrakech.Group winners and runners-up advance to the quarter-finals and the eventual champions pocket $1.25 million (about 1.050 million euro).Uganda readyHead coach Sebastien Desabre led his players to Stade de Marrakech for the official training on Friday night under floodlights, reports FUFA.CO.UG.The magnificent stadium with a capacity of 45,240 fans will be host to all the Uganda Cranes three matches in Group B.All the 23 players were involved in the session monitored by the entire technical team.“We are ready for the tournament. The attitude showed during training is what we need on Sunday. Let’s not relax. We have an important match to start with and we must get good results” Sebastien told his players after the training session.Later in a press briefing, Desabre was confident. “I have been with the team for the last ten days following my appointment. I opted to sign because Uganda has so much potential and I want to work to imporove the level of the national team.”“The first game in every competition is always the most important, ” said, adding that “Zambia is a good side and we are ready to face them. It is 50-50 for either side. Our target is to win the first game.”“Uganda has failed to go past the group stage in the three previous editions (2011, 2014, 2016) and our first objective is to do better by reaching the knockout stage. The second objective is to evaluate the players for the upcoming qualifiers of the Africa Cup of Nations in March.”ResultsGroup AAt Casablanca
by Will GravesAP Sports Writer PITTSBURGH (AP)—There were times earlier in his career when James McDonald would run into trouble and innings would slow to a crawl. Even worse, runners would disappear, and not in a good way.Too much thinking. Not enough attacking. COMMAND PERFORMANCE—Pirates starting pitcher James McDonald pitched 8 scoreless innings to record a 4-1 win over the first place Cincinnati Reds on Monday at PNC Park. McDonald’s record is now 4-2. (Courier Photo /William McBride) “Certain guys got up and I would think about it, ‘What if this happens? What if this happens?’” McDonald said. “Now I just don’t care. It’s a hitter up there and I’ve got a job to do and that’s get him out.”He’s doing it as well as anybody in baseball at the moment.McDonald scattered five hits over eight shutout innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 on Monday to climb back to .500. The 27-year-old right-hander wiggled free of a pair of two-on, no-out jams in the third and the fifth before retiring the final 12 batters he faced.“I think my mental approach is different,” McDonald said after improving to 4-2.So are the results.Pittsburgh has worked diligently with McDonald over the last two seasons trying to get him to corral his control issues, believing he has the talent to become a No. 1 starter down the road.He appears to be on his way, trimming his ERA to 2.20 while quieting Cincinnati’s high-powered offense. The Reds, who hit 17 homers during a seven-game homestand that concluded with a win over Colorado on Sunday, had just one extra-base hit.“He didn’t have his best stuff today, but we didn’t either,” Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. “He threw a good game against us. We weren’t swinging real good against him.”Pedro Alvarez, Rod Barajas and Neil Walker had two hits apiece and each drove in a run for the Pirates, who have won a season-high four straight to improve to 24-24. Joel Hanrahan got the final out for his 12th save as Pittsburgh reached .500 for the first time since the fourth game.“I like the direction we’re headed,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “I’m easy to please and hard to satisfy.”The Pirates have remained competitive despite the most woeful offense in baseball, though they are finally showing signs of life. Pittsburgh posted a season-high 10 runs to complete a sweep of the Cubs on Sunday then followed it up by giving McDonald an early cushion.Walker added an RBI double in the second before Barajas made it 4-0 in the third when he singled home Alvarez.McDonald didn’t let the chance to pitch with a somewhat comfortable lead go to waste. The Pirates came in scoring three runs or less in six of his nine outings this season, one of the major reasons his record has lagged despite the best start of his career.“‘Having a lead it’s nice but you can’t ease up,” McDonald said. “As just as quick it was 4-0, it could have been 4-4. You have to just right after them like it’s a 1-0 game, 0-0 game.”Cincinnati put runners on first and second with no outs in the third, but after a visit from pitching coach Ray Searage, McDonald grabbed Drew Stubbs’ bunt and fired to third to get the lead runner. He then struck out Wilson Valdez and escaped when Joey Votto flied out to center.Barajas credited McDonald’s new mindset for his success.“The last thing you want to do is if you do get in a jam you start thinking about what you’ve done wrong,” Barajas said. “He gets a couple hits, he gets right back on the mound and it gets to the point where I have to slow him down.”It was the last murmur of a threat against McDonald, who breezed through his final three innings, receiving a rousing ovation from the small but vocal crowd at PNC Park while walking into the dugout following the top of the eighth.Though he wanted to make a bid for his first career shutout, McDonald didn’t argue when Hurdle turned the game over to the bullpen in the ninth.“I’m just going to let him grow,” Hurdle said of McDonald. “I’m just along for the ride and I’m enjoying it.”