L&G Ramps Up Corporate Pensions as Single Annuities Drop

Legal & General Group Plc’s shares gained in London trading after the insurer said 2014 will be a record year for its corporate bulk annuities business, mitigating a 61 percent slump in sales to individual retirees.

Britain’s largest manager of pension assets sold 3.4 billion pounds ($5.4 billion) of corporate annuities in the nine-months to Sept. 30, boosted by 223 million pounds in the third quarter, Chief Financial Officer Mark Gregory said. Third-quarter sales of the product to individuals more than halved to 125 million pounds from a year earlier.

“We have a high degree of confidence that we will write about 8 billion pounds of annuities in 2014,” Gregory said on a call with reporters today from L&G’s London offices. “That’s double the record volume we wrote last year. The pipeline for bulk annuities is good.”

The shares rallied 2 percent to 235.3 pence at 10:09 a.m., extending its gains this year to 5.7 percent. That’s still the worst annual performance since 2011. About $6 billion was wiped off the U.K.’s insurance industry’s market value in March after Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne’s budget scrapped rules that pushed Britain’s retirees to buy an annuity.

Chief Executive Officer Nigel Wilson has said the bulk annuity business, where the insurer assumes pension liabilities from companies, would offset an expected 50 percent slump in the individual annuity market. He is also eyeing bulk annuities in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands to drive growth.

Lost Revenue

Other insurers including Aviva Plc have also ramped up their bulk annuity business to recapture lost revenue from individual annuities. Aviva last week said it has completed 50 deals in the nine months to September, up from 17 in 2013.

“We are flagging that we will have a very strong fourth quarter,” Gregory said. “At the big end of the market, the so-called mega deals, there is not a huge amount of competition that is prepared to play in that space.”

L&G’s also increased net cash 12 percent to 827 million pounds in the nine-month period, the statement showed. Assets at its investment-management unit were up 14 percent to 676.3 billion pounds from a year earlier, boosted by 8 billion pounds of net inflows.

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