AVIVA boss Mark Wilson said yesterday that he is confident that the restructure he has been leading at the insurer since 2013 is progressing well, with the integration of Friends Life already ahead of schedule.
Reporting on the six months to 30 June, Wilson said the period marked “10 consecutive quarters of growth”, adding: “All the metrics are moving in the right direction.”
Aviva posted a nine per cent increase in pre-tax operating profit, up to £1.17bn. The bulk of group profit came from the life insurance business, which boosted earnings by five per cent to £1.02bn.
“Despite annuity changes in the UK, our UK life business is leading the way,” said Wilson, highlighting the UK life arm’s value of new business, which grew by 31 per cent, excluding Friends Life.
On the subject of Friends Life, which Aviva bought for £5.6bn earlier this year, Wilson said the integration was ahead of schedule. However, he added: “It’s very early days. It’s very encouraging – but it’s nowhere near complete.”
Value of new business jumped significantly in the UK and Ireland, by 42 per cent, and in Italy, by 66 per cent. However, the Spanish unit’s value of new business fell by two per cent, while in Turkey it dropped by six per cent. Wilson said he was “not entirely happy” with this: “We will be addressing this in the second half.”
In terms of what else lies ahead for the group, when asked about the takeover talk surrounding rival RSA, Wilson would neither confirm nor deny reports that Aviva is also interested in making a bid for the firm. “We would never comment either way,” he said, adding: “But I can tell you we have a very full agenda and it’s taking up all our time.”