Saturday 20 January 2018

RSA sees sharp fall in income but better news for Irish Life

Pedestrians pass a sign outside an office building which houses the headquarters of RSA Insurance Group
Pedestrians pass a sign outside an office building which houses the headquarters of RSA Insurance Group
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Troubled insurer RSA has reported a sharp fall in its Irish business in the first quarter of the year.

RSA said Irish net written premiums – a measure of the amount of business done by the insurer – fell by 24pc in the first three months of 2014.

Net income from Irish customer premiums was £75m (€91m) over the period, compared to £99m a year earlier.

RSA – previously Royal Sun Alliance – is still recovering from last year's discovery of accounting irregularities at its Irish unit that forced the company to recognise £200m of losses here and which led to the departure of a number of senior executives.

Globally, the business has also been hit by the costs of unusually severe winter storms here, in the UK and in Canada.

New chief executive Stephen Hester – formerly of RBS – has initiated a root-and-branch shake-up of the business.

In a trading statement, RSA said underlying net written premiums globally were 4pc down from a year earlier.

"Underlying premium and profit trends are generally in line with our expectations," Mr Hester said.

In February, the company began a drive to raise up to £1.6bn in capital and tapped shareholders for around half of this in a rights issue that wrapped up in April.

RSA is also selling its operations in the Baltics and Poland and said it expects to announce more disposals during 2014.

Meanwhile, Irish Life has said it contributed €34m of earnings to its Canadian parent Great-West Lifeco in the first three months of the year.

The State sold Irish Life last year, having acquired the business as part of the nationalisation of the then Irish Life and Permanent. Irish Life's contribution to the parent was partially offset by restructuring costs related to its integration with Canada Life, also owned by Great-West Lifeco.

Irish Life increased its market share, both in the quarter and year over year, it said.

Irish Independent

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