Insurer RSA says turnaround on track

Stephen HesterRSA Insurance has bounced back from its aborted merger with Zurich with a rise in underlying net premiums.

It reported a net loss of £16m in the third quarter as a result of the earthquake in Chile, but chief executive Stephen Hester insisted its turnaround plan is on track as it posted a 1% rise in underlying premium income in the first nine months of the year.

Core group underlying net premiums rose 1% to £4.4 billion from last year, while tangible net asset value increased to £3bn from £2.9bn at the end of June. At actual exchange rates, net premiums were down 5%.

The company said it saw strong positive momentum in the first nine months of the year, with third-quarter profit trends well above 2014 and improving again on those reported in the first half.

Chief executive Stephen Hester said “We are very pleased with progress to date in RSA’s turnaround. If we can keep the improvements coming, the future is bright for RSA as a high quality, high performing leader in its markets.

“Insurance markets remain challenging and financial markets volatile. Within those constraints, RSA is making strong progress on the path to high quality and sustained business outperformance.”

He said Zurich’s Insurance’s unsolicited approach to RSA was a distraction in the third quarter but the business continued to perform well despite that.

In September, Zurich Insurance announced an end to its interest in acquiring RSA, highlighting difficulties in the company’s general insurance business.

Shares in RSA were up 12p at 427p in early trade.

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