Friends Provident reports new business up


Friends Provident reports new business up
Friends Provident has reported an 11 per cent increase in its new life and pensions business to £247 million, despite a decline in the UK.

UK new business was down by two per cent to £165 million on weaker underlying demand, but was offset by a strong international performance from Friends Provident International (FPI).

The UK market was "challenging", Friends Provident said, due to an unsettled investment environment and a slow housing market. The recent failed takeover bid from US buyout group JC Flowers also set the company back in winning new pension scheme business.

Friends Provident said the 77 per cent increase in growth to £58 million was driven by regular premium savings products in Asia.

However, the insurer warned that regular premium business written this quarter will be at a slightly lower rate of return than the FPI average in 2007 of 18 per cent, as competitors have established similar products in major markets such as Hong Kong.

The company is in the middle of a financial overhaul in a bid to focus on profitable products.

Adrian Montague, executive chairman of Friends Provident, said: "We are making good progress on delivery of our strategic review, and look forward to providing a full update at the interims. There is much to be done, but we remain confident in our strategy and long-term prospects."

Friends Provident added that early progress on the strategic review was "solid".

As part of the review, the insurer has put its three wealth management businesses, Lombard, F&C and Pantheon Financial, up for sale.

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