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Insurer Aviva posts record £3.2b operating profit

[LONDON] Aviva posted a 6 per cent rise in 2019 operating profit to £3.2 billion (S$5.71 billion) on Thursday on strong overall business, though profits in its UK life business dipped.

Operating profit was forecast at £3.1 billion, according to a company-supplied consensus forecast.

Britain's second-largest insurer, which has operations in Europe, Canada and Asia as well as Britain, saw increased business in both general and life insurance.

However, operating profit in the UK life business dipped to £1.86 billion from £1.89 billion and combined operating ratio, a measure of underwriting profitability in general insurance, weakened slightly to 97.5 per cent from 97.2 per cent. A level below 100 per cent indicates a profit.

"We will improve business performance and enhance returns through disciplined action on expenses and underwriting," said Maurice Tulloch, presenting his first set of annual results since become chief executive a year ago.

"My objective is to run Aviva better."

Aviva Investors, the firm's asset management unit, saw customer net inflows of £2.3 billion but operating profit fell by a third to £96 million.

The coronavirus epidemic "presents a new uncertainty in 2020", Mr Tulloch said.

The company said it would pay a dividend of 30.9 pence per share, up 3 per cent and in line with forecasts. 

REUTERS