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Aviva closes in on £5.6bn deal to acquire Friends Life (Reuters)

Aviva shares tumbled while Friends Life stock soared in the first trading session, after news emerged on late Friday that the insurers are considering a £5.6bn merger.

The Aviva stock price fell by nearly 4% to 519.00p while Friends Life shares rocketed by nearly 8% to 375.11p within the first hour of trading on 24 November.

Aviva's stock has gained some 20% so far this year while Friends Life's stock has shed about 1.8% this year.

The two insurers said on 21 November that they had agreed terms of a likely all-share deal.

Aviva's bid for every Friends Life share implied a 15% premium to the latter's closing price on 21 November.

Under the terms of the offer, Friends Life shareholders will own 26% of the combined group. They will also receive an amount in cash equal to any Friends Life final dividend for the 2014 financial year.