* Group profit of NOK 418 million for Q4 as compared to NOK 371 million for the same quarter in 2004.
* Investment return gives a good result for the life company's customers and owner.
* 2005 was characterised by strong customer growth for life insurance, asset management and banking.
* The Board of Directors of Storebrand ASA will propose a dividend of NOK 4 per share to the annual general meeting.
"We can look back on a strong year for Storebrand. The group produced a marked improvement in earnings, as well as significant growth in customer numbers in all its business areas", comments Idar Kreutzer, Group CEO.
He goes on to point out that Storebrand is well positioned for further growth in the market for pensions, long-term savings and life insurance. "At the same time we are now putting even more emphasis on our programs of improvement to make the most efficient and customer-oriented use of the group's resources", explains Idar Kreutzer.
Strong sales for life insurance
Storebrand enjoyed a very good year in 2005 for transfers of group pension business, with a net inflow (sales notified) of over NOK 4 billion. New pension clients include ISS, which has chosen Storebrand for its defined contribution scheme covering 10 000 employees in Norway, and Oslo Sporveier (Oslo's municipal public transport company), which appointed Storebrand as the new supplier of its defined benefit scheme. Of the eight municipalities that decided to move away from Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP), Storebrand attracted six, with pension assets of NOK 1.2 billion representing more than 75% of total pension transfers in the municipality sector. The major part of the pension reserves for these transfers will first be included in Storebrand's accounts in 2006.
Storebrand Life Insurance reported premium income (excluding transfers) of NOK 16 billion for 2005. This represents a year-on-year increase of 5%.
Storebrand Life Insurance generated a booked investment return of 6.9% for 2005, while the value-adjusted return was 7.5%. The value-adjusted return for the year including unrealised gains on bonds held to maturity was 6.9%.
Strong growth in investment management
Storebrand Investments has assets under management of NOK 205 billion at the start of 2006. This represents an increase of NOK 40 billion over the course of 2005. The main reasons for this increase was asset growth for Storebrand Life Insurance, and the decision by Gjensidige Forsikring to appoint Storebrand as the main manager for its investment portfolio.
Customers welcome free banking
Storebrand Bank again reported higher earnings in Q4. For the year as a whole, the bank reported an increase in pre-tax profit from NOK 121 million in 2004 to NOK 241 million in 2005. The bank's assets totalled NOK 29 billion at the close of Q4. The launch of the free banking concept has helped to ensure strong growth in customer numbers, with 8,000 new customer accounts opened in the second half of 2005. Gross lending increased by NOK 1,175 million in Q4, of which lending to retail customers represented NOK 740 million and commercial lending NOK 435 million.
On the basis of Storebrand's earnings, capital situation and dividend policy, the Board of Storebrand ASA will recommend that the annual general meeting approve a dividend of NOK 4 per share for 2005, of which the dividend for the year's activities will account for NOK 1.50 per share. This will represent a total distribution of NOK 1,011 million after adjusting for Storebrand's current holdings of its own shares. The Board plans to ask the annual general meeting to approve a new mandate for repurchases of the company's own shares.
Storebrand ASA's group accounts have been published in accordance with the International Financial Reporting standards (IFRS) approved by the European Union. The group results for 2005 are positively influenced by the write-back of a NOK 60 million pension cost.
Oslo, 15 February 2006
Appendix: Board of Directors' Interim report for Q4 2005
For further information contact:
Egil Thompson, Director of Corporate Communications
Tel. +47 22 48 95 86 Mobile +47 93 48 0012
Nils Robert Hodnesdal, Investor Relations
Tel. +47 22 31 55 33 Mobile +47 93 40 38 13