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Zurich profits slide despite annuity sale

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Operating profits at Zurich UK Life fell 2 per cent in 2015 from £115m to £113m, despite selling off a legacy annuity book.

The insurer transferred £1.2bn to Goldman Sachs-backed annuity provider Rothesay Life for an undisclosed fee in May.

Sales on an annualised premium equivalent basis fell by 11 per cent from £912m in 2014 to £812m last year. Zurich blame the drop for “intense” competition in protection markets, adding the fall reflects the “naturally uneven flow” of corporate savings.

However, sales on a new business value basis grew 5 per cent over the year, from £124m to £131m driven by growth in the platform business and corporate protection.

Zurich UK Life interim chief executive Jim Sykes says: “Despite the challenging economic conditions, including falls across global stockmarkets, we are building a consistent track record of strong and profitable growth.”

He adds: “Investments we made in new propositions earlier in the year have also started to pay off, with our high-performing Horizon fund range achieving strong sales in the last quarter, while our growth in pension drawdown business reflects the fact that this market has opened up following the retirement reforms.

Sykes says a shifting regulatory environment will give the business a further boost.

“This backdrop, together with a more complex tax environment and growing responsibility being transferred from the State to the individual, means that our products and services are increasingly needed to help consumers put themselves in greater control of their financial future.”

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