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Friends thinks positive as new business falls

Friends Provident new business fell by 2.5 per cent to £343m in 2001 from £352m in 2000.

But the life company claimed the figures were positive because the 2000 figures partly reflected big volumes of single-premium investment business written in anticipation of possible demutualisation benefits.

Friends Provident&#39s new life and pension business increased by 10 per cent to £283m in the second half of 2001 compared with £166m in the second half of 2000.

A strong fourth-quarter performance in group pension business totalling £45m, primarily comprising defined contribution arrangements, contributed to year-on-year growth of 47 per cent to £140m from £95m in 2000.

The launch of Friends&#39 select protection plan hel-ped the company increase its protection business by 20 per cent to £34m in 2001 from £28m in the previous year.

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