Insurance giant Aviva has posted an increase in full-year profit and pledged to splash out more than £1 billion on acquisitions and shareholder returns.
The group reported a 2% rise in operating profit to £3 billion in 2017, driven by a strong performance in the UK.
Aviva’s British insurance arm saw profit increase 13% to £2.2 billion.
Boss Mark Wilson said: “Our largest market, the UK, has gone from strength to strength, growing sales, market share and profit. For Aviva, the UK is a dependable and growing business.”
He also said the group will deploy £2 billion of excess cash this year, including £900 million in debt reduction, “in excess” of £500 million of capital returns to shareholders and about £600 million for bolt-on acquisitions.
Mr Wilson has been eyeing acquisitions in artificial intelligence and big data as he attempts to transform Aviva into a fintech firm.
Aviva is also working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on developing ways to offer better financial guidance and support to consumers.
Mr Wilson added: “We continue to invest in our businesses and in particular on priorities such as digital to make our products and services easier for our customers.
“Aviva is now a simpler, stronger group and we are growing. Our strategy is paying dividends.”
Mr Wilson has also been pushing through a radical shake-up of the group, exiting fringe businesses to focus on its core operations.
To this end, Aviva offloaded its Spanish operations for £178 million earlier this year.