Hester seeks to rebalance RSA as business falls

 
Kate McCann
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RSA revealed first quarter results broadly in line with analyst expectations yesterday, in what bosses are describing as a foundation year for the group after heavy losses last year.

Chief executive Stephen Hester welcomed support from shareholders as he seeks to turn the insurer around, revealing that underlying net written premiums were down four per cent this quarter.

In the UK, premiums were down 17 per cent overall at £604m compared to £726m in the same period last year. Motor was down 40 per cent, reflecting changes made to the portfolio as a result of Hester’s rebalancing strategy.

RSA reported a five per cent increase in pet premiums and two per cent in household, despite a competitive market.

Analysts Panmure Gordon posted a hold recommendation, adding in a note yesterday: “Profitability is said to be in line with management expectations despite adverse weather losses in the first quarter. While we think that management are taking the right actions, the trading conditions remain very tough.”

RSA boss Hester said the group is making good progress since the £747m rights issue earlier this year.

“We are especially grateful to shareholders for supporting RSA’s new direction and the rights issue which has now completed,” Hester said.

“There remains much to do and we operate in a challenging and competitive market place. 2014 is a foundation year, but one where we hope to make solid progress,” he added.