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HBOS throws down challenge to rivals

HBOS has thrown down the gauntlet to rival groups Standard Life and Aviva by stating that it aims to be the UK&#39s number-one seller of pensions, life insurance and other investment products.

Group chief executive James Crosby laid down the challenge last week at the publication of HBOS&#39s interim results.

Crosby said that the company&#39s distribution and capital advantages mean that it is well positioned to take advantage of falling stockmarkets and become the biggest UK seller of investment products.

The interim results reveal a profit before tax and exceptional items of £1.825bn, up by 21 per cent.

Investment profits rose by 49 per cent to £176m in the first six months of the year from £118m over the same period last year.

But life office subsidiary Clerical Medical&#39s UK intermediary sales were down by 2 per cent to £206m from £210m on an equivalent premium income basis and sales at St James&#39 Place were 17 per cent lower at £69m from £83m a year ago.

Crosby says: “In the investment products industry, stockmarkets have taken their toll of profits and sales prospects. HBOS&#39s distribution and capital advantages mean that this presents a real opportunity for us to achieve the number one position in UK investment product sales.”

Norwich Union spokesman Ian Beggs says: “In the UK, we already have one of the most competitive financial services marketplaces in Europe, no more so than in the life and pensions arena.

“Last week, we regained our position as the UK&#39s number one life and pension company and we certainly have no worries about a bit of healthy competition.

“Any intensely competitive market can only be great news for consumers going forward.”

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