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Strong overseas performance boosts profits for pension provider

Life and pensions group Standard Life added to signs of recovery in the industry after reporting a 10% rise in operating profits.

Edinburgh-based Standard said it had seen a 71% increase in net inflows - revenues from premiums and deposits offset by withdrawals and policy terminations - to a record £5.3bn in the half year.

This meant group assets under administration improved by 5% to £179bn at the end of the period. Operating profits were in line with City expectations after improving to £182m from £166m a year earlier.

Standard has benefited from a strong performance in international markets, particularly in India, where it sees "great potential".

In the UK, profits were down 5% due to lower volumes of annuity business and increased costs relating to investment in new areas of business.

The UK business reported retail outflows of £404m in the half-year period, but this was £703m better than a year ago after continued strong demand for self-invested personal pensions and mutual funds.

Standard is seeing outflows across all pension products, mainly due to the change in the minimum age at which customers can take retirement benefits from 50 to 55.

Chief executive David Nish said the company had the products to capitalise on "very large" individual and employer markets in the UK and Canada.

He added: "Whilst the economic background remains uncertain, we believe that the underlying demographic and regulatory trends in our key markets continue to support our future growth potential."