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Flybe hit; Sainsbury’s upbeat; Aegon plea

Flybe contributed

Flybe: Profits plunge

Regional airline Flybe has reported a 47% slump in adjusted pre-tax profits to £8.4m.

The firm attributed the decrease to a one-off IT contract provision and the impact of increased aircraft maintenance costs.

It said the fall in the value sterling was an added factor.

Flybe is still recovering from a series of costly mistakes, including running too many loss-making routes and failed joint ventures.

In an update it said: “Our strategy remains on track to reduce our fleet size to an optimum level for the number of identified profitable routes and make the business demand-driven rather than capacity-led.

Christmas isn’t cancelled

Sainsbury's LocalSainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe insists “Christmas isn’t cancelled” despite a 9% fall in half-year profits to £251m for the 28 weeks to 23 September.

This came in spite a 1.6% rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel.

In an interview, Mr Coupe said the grocery market is very competitive, but said there was “positive momentum” and the supermarket is serving a record numbers of customers.

Prices will be about the same as Christmas two years ago. “Christmas is not cancelled this year,” Mr Coupe said.

Aegon chief’s pensions plea

Adrian GraceAegon UK: Adrian Grace, chief executive,  has urged the Chancellor to avoid tinkering with pensions when he unveils his budget.

“As we approach the Budget, we have a dangerous combination of a government looking to retake the political agenda, a budget deficit that is proving difficult to eradicate and the legislative challenge of Brexit.

“The Chancellor may well consider pension tax relief as easy pickings as a both a cost saving and an opportunity to score political points.

“Recent talk of offering younger generations a cut in NI in exchange for reform of tax relief would however prove highly disruptive and should not be undertaken without significant thought.

“Now is not the time for radical change and the government should wait until Brexit negotiations are complete and there is time for proper debate.”

Mr Grace said last year’s acquisitions of Cofunds and BlackRock’s DC business along with the sale of the annuity book have transformed the scale and make-up of the business.

Commenting on third quarter figures, he said the company delivered earnings of £25m, up significantly on the same time last year. The firm is in the process of paying a dividend of £150m to Aegon Group “which is representative of our strong financial position”. 

Assets on the group’s platforms are up to £110bn driven by net inflows of £1.4bn as well as upgrades to the platform of £1.1bn.

“We are also pleased to see that advisers have responded positively to the Cofunds acquisition which brings certainty of ownership, investment and has seen consideration levels for the platform rise significantly and a long term sales decline reverse this year.

“We have an important couple of months ahead but I’m confident that if we stick to our task and focus on providing advisers with the tools and services that help them to manage their business more efficiently, both advisers and Aegon will be successful.”

In September the company transferred £3bn of annuities to L&G as the business focuses primarily on generating revenues mainly through fees for administering pensions and investments.

The integration of the BlackRock DC business is also progressing well, said the company, and the deal has enabled it to gain expertise in administering large corporate schemes and master trusts which have led to a number of recent client wins. 




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