Aviva meets targets but sees capital surplus fall

EUROPE-focused insurer Aviva met forecasts for both its savings and personal insurance businesses yesterday and sought to dispel concerns about its Eurozone debt holdings.

Life and pensions sales fell ten per cent to £20.9bn in the first nine months of the year compared to a year ago, as it cut back on capital-intensive products. Sales of general insurance were up nine per cent to £7bn, with an 11.6 per cent rise in the UK. It also cut its combined ratio to 96 per cent, a sign of rising profitability.

Chief executive Andrew Moss said Aviva was on track to meet its targets. “Markets have been exceptionally volatile but we have delivered a strong operating performance,” he said.

But Aviva said its regulatory capital surplus fell to £2.7bn by September from £4bn in June due to the slump in financial markets – a concern for investors as the insurer holds about £1.4bn of Eurozone sovereign debt.

“The company sounds a little concerned in its narrative and refers to a number of actions in the fourth quarter to stabilise the figure,” said analyst Trevor Moss of Berenberg Bank.