Aviva plans to raise more than £1bn by selling a minority stake in its Dutch subsidiary, Delta Lloyd.
It is expected to sell between 30% and 49% of the unit, which is valued at E4.3bn. The sale will release funds into Aviva that could be used for acquisitions.
In a statement, Aviva said it planned to “pursue balance sheet restructuring opportunities or to explore other opportunities for growth”.
Delta Lloyd, which operates in Holland and Belgium, offers life insurance, general insurance, fund management and banking services.
The public offering is expected to be complete by the end of next month. Aviva owns all Delta Lloyd’s shares, but only 92% of the voting rights because of an arrangement with a charitable trust.
Analysts had not expected the public offering until 2010. It will be the largest in Europe for the past two years.