Belfast Telegraph

Insurance giant Aviva hikes payouts to shareholders

By Ben Woods

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.

Belfast Telegraph