Standard Life deal helps lift Phoenix figures

Phoenix Group Holdings, which last year acquired Standard Life Assurance taking on thousands of staff in Scotland, has reported higher full-year profits.

Chief executive Clive Bannister: '2018 was a very successful year'. Picture: Contributed

Europe’s largest owner of life assurance funds closed to new customers said group operating profit rose to £708 million in 2018, from £368m a year earlier.

Assets under administration sat at £226 billion as of 31 December, compared with a pro-forma figure of £240bn at the end of 2017.

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The group, which is poised to enter London’s top blue-chip share index, also said its preparations for the UK’s exit from the European Union were complete, noting that it would transfer assets to an Irish domiciled unit, in which it has injected £250m.

Phoenix said it had delivered £1.3bn cash generation in 2017 and 2018, exceeding the upper end of its target range of £1bn to £1.2bn for the period. It is proposing a final dividend of 23.4p per share, up by 3.5 per cent on 2017.

Chief executive Clive Bannister said: “2018 was a very successful year for Phoenix in which we exceeded our cash generation targets, further improved our capital resilience and transformed the business through the acquisition of the Standard Life Assurance businesses. The transition of the Standard Life Assurance businesses continues to progress well and today we increase the total cost and capital synergy target by 70 per cent from £720m to £1.2bn.

“Phoenix’s substantial new business flows across both our heritage and open businesses through our strategic partnership with Standard Life Aberdeen bring increased sustainability to our long-term cash generation. We are confident about our opportunities to grow in the future.”

Under the strategic partnership between the group and Standard Life Aberdeen some 3,500 employees moved to Phoenix – about 2,900 of them based in Scotland.