RSA praised for its results

ROYAL & Sun Alliance chief executive Andy Haste stood down on a high yesterday after the home and car insurer posted profits ahead of all market expectations.

RSA made £467m operating profit in the first half of the year, up 22 per cent on the same period in 2010 and well over the highest analyst forecast of £441m.

Pre-tax profit came in at £376m, up 25 per cent compared with the first half of 2010, despite its commercial lines business making a £19m loss due to catastrophes in the period.

Haste said he would step down by the end of the year after eight years as group chief executive, handing over to the group’s head of international operations, Simon Lee.

“While market conditions remain challenging, we continue to expect to deliver targeted profitable growth in the UK, around ten per cent growth in international and double digit growth in emerging markets,” Haste said in a statement.

RSA, which operates in 34 countries, wrote £4.2bn of premiums in the first half, ten per cent more than a year ago.

Investec analyst Kevin Ryan said the results were “consensus-smashing” and “a significant achievement”.