Generali cuts costs, returns cash to investors and promises independence

 
Oliver Gill
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Generali was the subject of a takeover attempt by Italian lender Intesa Sanpaolo earlier this year (Source: Getty)

Generali, one the world's largest insurance firms, today pledged to speed up €200m (£174m) of cost cuts and keep its head below the M&A paraphet.

The Italian firm posted its best ever operating profit of €4.8bn, rewarding investors from its cash-rich coffers by hiking its dividend over 11 per cent.

Shares in the firm rose over 2.5 per cent in the wake of the news.

Intesa Sanpaolo launched a takeover attempt of Generali earlier this year, a move that surprised some of the insurer's key investors, including Turin's city-state investment fund.

Read more: Generali shares slip with Intesa takeover facing hurdles

The deal fell away despite Generali being forced to admit it was in exploratory talks with the Italian lender.

Fantasy

Today, Generali chief executive Philippe Donnet quashed questions of further approaches in the future, labelling them "a fantasy".

He said: "Operating result and cash generation are the highest ever, driven by further improvements in the performance across the whole group.

Read more: Intesa Sanpaolo examining Generali takeover

"Thanks to a tighter focus on the efficiency of our operating machine, we reduced costs for the first time and we will now deliver our 2019 savings target on mature markets one year ahead of plan.

"I am encouraged by Generali's progress in the last year. We are already seeing the early results of our 'Simpler, Smarter. Faster' Plan, announced in November 2016.

We are proud of these results, but we consider them only a first step in a journey to become the best insurance company for clients, distributors, employees and investors and we look to the future with confidence, as an independent, Italian, international group.

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