TURKEY - Aviva, the UK's largest insurer, is to form a joint venture in Turkey with Aksigorta, one of the country's largest insurers.

The companies will effectively merge their life and pensions business and distribute products via high street bank, Akbank.

Tidjane Thiam, chief executive of Aviva Europe, described Turkey as "one of the most attractive life and pensions markets."

If the proposed venture goes ahead, it will form the largest pensions business in the country although combined assets amount to only €370m. By contrast, Aksigorta received non-life premiums of more than €350m in 2006 alone.

The deal does not involve either insurer's non-life business.

Akbank would participate in an exclusive deal whereby the newly-merged provider sells its life and pensions products to the bank's 5.9 million customers.

Elsewhere, it is understood that Turkey's Garanti Bank is selling to Dutch-based insurer, Eureko, 80 per cent of its insurance unit for €365m and 15 per cent of its pension fund business for €100m.