Insurance giant Aviva hikes payouts to shareholders
Insurance giant Aviva has increased its payout to shareholders after annual profits outstripped expectations.
Operating profits for the full year climbed by a fifth to £2.7bn, beating forecasts of £2.49bn, as the company's integration with Friends Life following its £6bn takeover moved "faster and better than expected".
It was also bolstered by a 24% surge in the value of new business - its 12th consecutive quarter of growth - while life insurance operating profits stepped up 20% to £2.4bn. Shares surged 3.8% as the company also announced it would increase the final dividend per share by 15% to 14.05 pence.
Chief executive Mark Wilson said Aviva had shown "stability and growth" amid a backdrop of "market volatility and uncertainty".
He added: "Aviva is now a stronger and more focused business. We have completed the fix phase of our transformation."
Mr Wilson said the company was on course to deliver £225m-worth of cost-savings following its tie-up with Friends Life by the end of 2016 - a year ahead of schedule.
Aviva snapped up Friends Life for £5.6bn in April last year, sealing the industry's biggest merger since 2000 and creating a group comprising 31,500 employees across the globe.
The insurance company previously announced that the deal would trigger the loss of about 1,500 jobs, almost 5% of its workforce.