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Great Eastern Q4 profit up 25% to S$207.8m

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Great Eastern Holdings posted a 25 per cent rise in net profit to S$207.8 million for the fourth quarter, thanks to higher mark-to-market gains and a growth in operating profit from the insurance business.

GREAT Eastern Holdings posted a 25 per cent rise in net profit to S$207.8 million for the fourth quarter, thanks to higher mark-to-market gains and a growth in operating profit from the insurance business.

Gross premiums were 6 per cent higher at S$2.3 billion.

A larger in-force business and higher unrealised mark-to-market gains drove profit from the insurance business 18 per cent higher to S$203.5 million.

Earnings from investments in shareholders' funds also grew, rising 42 per cent to S$48.6 million, on the back of higher investment income, gain from sale of investments and foreign exchange gains.

Higher fee income boosted Great Eastern's fees and other income to S$20.3 million, up 5 per cent from S$19.3 million a year ago.

For the full year, the oldest insurance group in Singapore and Malaysia recorded a net profit of S$878.6 million, up 30 per cent from 2013, given more favourable market conditions last year.

Its embedded value, an estimate of the long-term economic value of a life insurance company for the existing blocks of business, rose 13 per cent to S$10.4 billion last year, owing to an increase in the value of adjusted shareholders' fund from strong investment performance, and a growth in the value of its in-force business.

The company has recommended a final dividend of 40 cents, and a special dividend of five cents, for each share. These will be paid on May 7.

Including an interim dividend of 10 cents that was paid in September 2014, Great Eastern's total dividends for 2014 come up to 55 cents a share.

Shares in Great Eastern last traded at S$24.16 on Thursday, four cents lower from the previous session.