STANDARD Life bettered expectations in its first year under new chief executive David Nish, despite seeing its profit slide by 1.5 per cent last year.
Britain’s fifth-largest insurer by market value now looks set to concentrate on its core retirement and wealth management markets as it aims to return to profit growth.
Operating profits, at £919m, were well ahead of market consensus figures of £668m and were boosted by one-off changes to the life insurer’s back book.
The firm also unveiled £47m of cost cuts, edging towards its target of £100m by the end of this year. The cost reductions achieved during the year came from outsourcing some IT development as well as restructuring European service operations.
Nish told City A.M. he expects to see a return to profit growth in 2010 “depending on markets being stable.”
“It is a growth area and we are committed to developing it,”?he said.
In the UK, its core domestic market, Standard Life posted an operating profit of £506m, down from £658m and again above expectations thanks to the back book changes.
Its fast-growing Asian business produced a profit of £6m from a loss of £35m a year ago. It is also understood the firm is looking to offload its private medical insurance business in a deal that could raise £200m.
It is thought to have appointed Fenchurch Advisory Partners to look into the sale of the division.