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Zurich shows ‘strength of platform’ as sale speculation mounts

Zurich-Building-700x450.jpgZurich has “demonstrated the strength” of its platform with an increase of 15 per cent in assets under administration, as speculation mounts about the insurance giant selling the business.

The company reported £10.89bn AUA for the second quarter of 2019 up from £9.48bn from the same period last year.

Zurich head of retail platform strategy Alistair Wilson tells Money Marketing: “Given the challenging economic environment these are robust results, which demonstrate the strength of our platform.

“Our AUA is up from £9.48bn to £10.89bn – an increase of 15 per cent. Our multi-asset Horizon Funds have also continued to enjoy strong inflows, growing by a quarter from £438m to £551m.”

He adds: “Although platforms inflows are lower as a result of external headwinds, this is in line with the industry as a whole. Despite uncertainty from Brexit, which has damaged investor confidence and led to inertia across the market, we have delivered a solid performance.”

But the company remains tight-lipped about reports indicating it plans to sell its retail platform, Zurich Intermediary.

It is thought to be seeking offers of more than £50m for the platform.

Industry sources have told Money Marketing that it would not be beyond the realms of possibility for Zurich to sell the business as it is “not core” to the company’s strategy.

Rumours about a sale have been circulating since Zurich disposed of its corporate pensions business to Lloyds-owned Scottish Widows. The buyer was reported to also be eyeing Zurich’s adviser platform, but a deal did not take place.

Zurich: Retail platform is not for sale

Embark chief executive Phil Smith previously told Money Marketing that if Zurich’s platform is being marketed there is likely to be “strong interest” as it is a “solid, profitable platform” with scale.

But he said it will be one for the blue-chip participants rather than the entrepreneurial players in the sector.

Aegon has been cited as a potential buyer but the company has refused to comment on “market speculation”.

Overall, Zurich reported its best half year financial results in more than a decade helped by strong growth in its UK business.

Results for H1 show Zurich UK record profit of £185m for its insurance business, up 144 per cent from £76m last year.

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