INSURANCE giant Aviva, which employs 2,000 people in York, is to shed 1,500 jobs across its operations, it has announced.

The move is as a result of its proposed £5.6 billion merger with rival Friends Life, the company said.

The cuts represent almost five per cent of the companies' total workforce of 31,500. There has not yet been any announcement about where the jobs will go, but if the job cuts were to be applied equally across the company, York's share would equate to about 100.

The move is part of an effort to make £225 million annual savings by the end of 2017.

The proposed job losses were revealed in a prospectus issued to City investors ahead of votes on the deal at the end of March.

Aviva said no specific teams, roles or locations have been identified as under threat, adding that it will look to limit the number of redundancies through normal staff turnover and the use of existing vacancies.

The company employs around 28,000 staff worldwide, including 12,000 in the UK and 5,000 in its UK life and pensions division. Friends Life has 3,550 UK staff, largely in offices in Bristol, Dorking, Manchester and London.

As well as York, Aviva has offices in Norwich, Sheffield and Glasgow, although there is no overlap between Friends and Aviva's general insurance arm.

The deal with Friends is the biggest in the industry since the merger of CGU and Norwich Union created the company now known as Aviva in 2000.

If the takeover is backed by shareholders and goes ahead as planned by the spring, Aviva will become the UK's leading insurance, savings and asset management business by number of customers.

An Aviva spokeswoman said: "We appreciate that this news may be disconcerting for employees and we would look to ensure that any redundancies are kept to a minimum wherever possible, by using vacancies and natural turnover, for example.

"At this stage, no specific teams, roles or locations have been identified as the proposed transaction has not completed. When we are clearer on this, following completion of the deal, we will fully engage and consult with employees and their representative bodies."