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Voya lifts profit target, announces US$750m buyback

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 07:05
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Voya Financial Inc, the US insurer and investment manager that was spun off from ING Groep NV, announced a US$750 million share buyback and increased its profitability target.

[NEW YORK] Voya Financial Inc, the US insurer and investment manager that was spun off from ING Groep NV, announced a US$750 million share buyback and increased its profitability target.

Chief Executive Officer Rodney Martin plans a 2018 operating return on equity of 13.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent, the New York-based company said Tuesday in a statement. The previous range for that year was 13 per cent to 14 per cent, and ROE was about 12.1 per cent in 2014.

Voya is focusing on growth in investment-management and some retirement operations that can be less capital-intensive than annuities or life insurance. Last month, the company announced the hiring of Charles Nelson as CEO of the retirement unit. Martin has committed to as much as US$350 million in investments to boost profitability.

The initiative will "bear more fruit than originally projected," Mark Palmer, an analyst with BTIG, wrote in a note to investors.

Almost half of the US$350 million plan is for spending on data and analytics, according to an investor presentation. Another US$120 million is earmarked for simplifying information technology. The largest share of the effort is scheduled for 2016.

Voya climbed 0.9 per cent to US$45.76, and has advanced about 8 per cent this year. That compares with the US$19.50 price from an initial public offering in 2013.

"We are very much trying to help people accumulate, protect and ultimately enjoy their retirement," Mr Martin said in an interview at the company's investor day in New York Tuesday. "Our objective is just to continue to execute as we have, and if we do, I think it's going to be one of be the preeminent retirement players in the US."

BLOOMBERG