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Standard optimistic despite plunge in business

Standard Life says it is optimistic abut the prospects for 2004 despite seeing new UK business fall by 24 per cent to £1.08bn in APE in the year to November 2003 from £1.43bn the previous year.

Europe&#39s biggest mutual life company says the previous year&#39s figures were swollen by inflows of funds from Equitable Life, accentuating a drop in business caused by a more selective approach to annuity and protection business and overall low consumer confidence in financial markets.

Group defined-contribution pension business fell by 17 per cent to £326m in APE to November 2003 from £392m in 2002 while individual pension sales – including individual stakeholder plans – tumbled by 35 per cent to £302m from £467m.

Sales of investment products – including with-profits bond business – fell by 35 per cent to £165m in 2003 from £253m the previous year while protection sales rose by 12 per cent to £37m from £33m over the same period.

Standard Life managing director UK life and pension sales Nathan Parnaby says: “2003 has been a tougher year than we thought and we are below budget but we have still seen annualised growth of 17 per cent for the last three years.”

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