Aviva FY17 Operating Profit Up 2%

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Aviva FY17 Operating Profit Up 2%

"This year, we expect to deploy £2 billion of excess cash, including £900 million in debt reduction, in excess of £500 million of capital returns to shareholders and about £600 million for bolt-on acquisitions". The general insurance combined ratio deteriorated to 96.6 per cent from 94.2 per cent.

The UK digital and direct business passed the £1bn premium mark in 2017, delivering growth of 14%, while Aviva said its digital intellectual property played a pivotal role in helping secure long-term relationships with HSBC in the UK and Tencent in Hong Kong.

The board has announced a final dividend of 19p per share, taking the full year payment to 27.4p, an 18 per cent increase on last year.

For fiscal 2018, the Group targets greater than 5% growth in operating EPS subject to the impacts from foreign exchange, weather and other items.

Its Solvency II cover ratio, however, rose to 198% from 189% the year prior.

Mark Wilson, Aviva's group chief executive officer, commented: "Our largest market, the United Kingdom, has gone from strength to strength, growing sales, market share and profit".

Aviva's United Kingdom adviser platform reported a 56 per cent increase in assets under management in 2017, however, that business was included in a loss-making division of the group.

Life Insurance remains by far the largest contributor to group profits, with operating profits of £2.9bn - up 9% on past year. "We now have a collection of strong and growing businesses".

"Aviva is now a simpler, stronger group and we are growing".

Aviva shares fell on Thursday morning, however, fell more than 2% to below 495p before erasing the worse of losses.

"Aviva has broad-based growth, with six of our eight major markets delivering double-digit profit improvement", said Wilson.

He added: "Disappointments are few and far between, although committed bears may point to a slightly softer General Insurance operating profit, an uptick in operating expenses and a 'disappointing"' contribution from Canada.

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