Aviva Says First-Half Profit Jumps, Increases Dividend

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Aviva Plc, the U.K.’s second-biggest insurer by market value, reported a 9 percent increase in first-half profit, boosted by its life business.

Operating profit rose to 1.2 billion pounds ($1.8 billion) from 1.1 billion pounds a year earlier, Aviva said in a statement on Thursday. The London-based insurer also increased its interim dividend by 15 percent to 6.75 pence.

“After three years of turnaround we are now moving to a different phase of delivery,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson said in the statement. “We have improved the balance sheet, simplified the group and we are now transforming our business.”

Wilson said in May that the company’s turnaround was ahead of schedule after buying Friends Life Group Ltd. which boosted cash levels and help reduce debt. Some 1,500 job losses are planned to help cut costs by 225 million pounds annually.

The shares rose as much as 1.9 percent to 537.5 pence in London, the highest level since May. They gained 1.2 percent at 8:49 a.m., valuing the company at 21.6 billion pounds.

Operating profit at the Life business, the company’s largest, rose to 1 billion pounds from 973 million pounds a year earlier. General insurance and health also reported an increase in that period.

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