Aviva sees 3% increase in 2009 profits

Aviva has reported a 3% increase in 2009 profit, with cost cuts and stronger financial markets helping to counter the effects of the poor weather.

The insurance giant Aviva reported a “significant year of progress” after it axed nearly 11,000 roles across its workforce.

The group reported a 3% rise in operating profits to £3.48bn for 2009 and confirmed the first signs of an improving market as customers look to start saving again. Its most recent, starring Paul Whitehouse (pictured) has championed this.

In a statement, the company says: “Delivering profitable growth is a key focus for both our UK businesses in 2010. A return to top-line growth in general insurance is a key priority. Our marketing investment, recent re-entry into corporate risk business and development of the RAC franchise will contribute to this.”

“Of critical importance is the globalisation of our business development and marketing capabilities to institutions, intermediaries and investment consultants, which has resulted in a strong pipeline of external new business.”

Aviva says plans to cut costs by £500m were a year ahead of target, having axed 10,700 jobs over the past two years – including a 30% reduction in its UK employee base.

Aviva says it will keep a “rigorous” control on costs in the UK, where figures revealed a tough market in 2009, with operating profits down 11% for the life business to £672 million and 18% lower for general insurance and health.

However, new business figures last month showed a marked rebound in the fourth quarter and raised hopes that the worst was behind it.

Andrew Moss, group chief executive, says: “2009 was a year of significant progress for Aviva; a year of strong financial performance and delivery against our strategic plans. Against a challenging economic backdrop we focused on profitability and made clear choices to optimise our capital and reshape our portfolio.”

“We have a refreshed executive team and a clear strategy. We aim to grow our life and general insurance businesses profitably, increase third party assets under management and continue to maximise the benefits of being a single global group. As economies begin to recover we will seek to take market share based on the strength of our brand, products, distribution and customer franchise. We will improve our productivity by controlling costs as we grow, thus creating value for shareholders and our 53 million customers.”

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