Sunday 22 April 2018

Profits down at Irish Life as it prepares for health sector push

Irish Life chief executive David Harney
Irish Life chief executive David Harney
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

Profits at Irish Life slid by €9m in the second quarter of the year, though it still contributed €36m in dividends to its Canadian parent company, Great West Lifeco.

However, the dip in profits is largely due to the absence of one-off gains on property and bond disposals, which had been a feature in the same quarter of the previous year.

The company said its €36m second-quarter profit is in line with expectations.

It comes as the business prepares for a push into the health insurance market, following acquisitions earlier in the year.

Irish Life said its Investment Managers department performed strongly in the three month period with assets under management growing by 11pc to over €60bn. Around 35pc of the company's management portfolio comes from clients in Europe, the US and Canada.

The company's corporate pension business grew with the establishment of two new Irish Life Empower schemes, both of which are made up of over 2,000 members. Irish Life Empower is an improved company pension plan, which makes pension information more accessible for company employees.

Irish Life chief executive David Harney said the company's main focus during the period was progressing deals to acquire Aviva Health and gain control of GloHealth as it bids to enter the health insurance market.

"Earlier this week we announced the establishment of Irish Life Health and we are now in the process of integrating the two companies under the new brand.

"This is a very significant development for Irish Life Group and a good fit with our existing life and pensions business as we expand our financial services portfolio in the Irish market," he said.

Irish Life was bought by Canada-based Great West Lifeco in 2013 for €1.3bn in what was described as a transformational deal for the Irish business.

Previously Irish Life was nationalised following a taxpayer bailout of the former Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P), and subsequently split from the Permanent TSB retail bank.

Last month, IL&P's former group chief executive Denis Casey was jailed for two years and nine months for his role in a €7.2bn fraud back in 2008 at the height of the banking crisis, when a series of transactions between Anglo Irish Bank and IL&P that were used to make Anglo Irish Bank's finances look better than the reality for year-end accounts.

The financial services company, which has been based here for 75 years, boasts around a million customers.

Group-wide Great West reported net earnings of $671m, up from $659m in the same three-month period last year. Sales in the second quarter of the year were up 1pc to $24.9bn for the Canadian company.

Irish Independent

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