Royal London Considers More Acquisitions After Buying Co-Op Unit

Royal London Group, which last month bought Co-Operative Bank Plc’s insurance and investment units, said it wants to make additional acquisitions with assets of more than “a couple billion” pounds.

Royal London Chief Executive Officer Phil Loney said the insurer also plans to expand the group pensions and asset-management businesses as well as the company’s Ascentric wrap platform, which helps manage a client’s investments.

“We wouldn’t want to buy very small books of business -- they are not economic,” Loney, 48, said in a telephone interview today after the company reported first-half profit doubled. “They need to be above a couple billion of assets under management for us to be interested.”

The U.K.’s biggest customer-owned life insurer completed the purchase of Co-Op’s life and insurance asset-management businesses after agreeing to buy the units in March for about 219 million pounds ($343 million). The acquisition increases Royal London’s assets under management by 20 million pounds to 70 million pounds, which will be reflected in the full-year results.

Loney said the company doesn’t plan to move into new businesses.

“We have got most of the exposure to the parts of the market that we want to be in,” said Loney, hired in 2011 from Lloyds Banking Group Plc. Once the Co-Op “integration is successfully completely, absolutely, we’re still open to further with-profit back-book acquisitions.” With-profits policies pay customers a share of a fund’s profit in the form of a bonus.

Profit Rises

Royal London said today first-half pretax profit doubled to 226 million pounds, boosted by the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review, a ban on financial advisers taking commissions from fund companies that came into effect this year.

Total new life and pensions business climbed 10 percent to 1.95 billion pounds while group funds under management increased 3 percent to 51.1 billion pounds, the company said in a statement. Royal London Asset Management reported net new business inflows of 308 million pounds compared with 310 million pounds of outflows for the same period last year.

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