Storebrand: results Q4 2006

Fourth quarter 2006: Strong growth and good results
  • Group profit of NOK 460 million for Q4 2006 and NOK 1,585 million for the full year.
  • 15,500 companies with 200,000 employees in total arranged mandatory occupational pension schemes through Storebrand in 2006.
  • Strong net inflow of pension transfers to Storebrand Life Insurance totalling NOK 5.3 billion for 2006.
  • Value adjusted return of 8.3% gives a good result for customers and owners.
  • High inflow of new customers to Storebrand Bank. 21,000 new accounts opened in 2006. 
  • Strong improvement in earnings at Storebrand Investments.
"2006 was an excellent year for Storebrand, with good value creation for both customers and owners and strong growth in all core business areas. A high level of customer satisfaction and strong inflow of new customers gives good momentum into 2007. Development is satisfactory, and the work to improve performance continues unabated", comments Idar Kreutzer, Group CEO.
Leading name for pensions
Storebrand Life Insurance booked a net inflow of pension transfers of NOK 5.3 billion in 2006, of which NOK 0.5 billion in Q4. The investment in the market for mandatory occupational pensions has produced good results that confirm Storebrand's position as a leading supplier of occupational pensions. Storebrand has set up mandatory occupational pension schemes covering around 200,000 employees in total that represent annual premiums of NOK 860 million.
The life company's investment portfolio again produced a good investment return in Q4.  The value-adjusted investment return was 3.6% in Q4, and 8.3% for the year as a whole. The booked investment return was 2.3% in Q4 and 7.1% for the year as a whole. Unrealised gains increased by NOK 2 billion over the course of 2006. 
Strong results from asset management
Asset management activities reported an improvement in profit of NOK 63 million relative to the fourth quarter of last year. The main reasons for this improvement were growth in assets under management and the good investment performance achieved for the funds and portfolios managed. Storebrand Investments had NOK 217 billion of assets under management at the close of Q4, representing an increase of NOK 12 billion in 2006.
Successful growth at Storebrand Bank
Storebrand Bank's focus on the retail market is generating accelerating growth in customer numbers. The bank opened over 6,000 new customer accounts in Q4, bringing the total of new accounts in 2006 to over 21,000. Gross lending increased by NOK 2.6 billion in Q4, and by NOK 4.4 billion since the start of 2006.
New P&C business well received
Storebrand Skadeforsikring (P&C insurance business) moved from its project phase into normal operation in Q4. The start-up of this operation was completed as planned, and it has attracted a very good inflow of customers. By the close of 2006, the company had over 2,000 customers and a portfolio of business representing NOK 17 million of annual premiums. By 14 February, customer numbers had increased to 3,500.
Dividend of NOK 1.80 per share
On the basis of Storebrand's earnings, capital situation and dividend policy, the Board of Directors of Storebrand ASA will recommend that the Annual General Meeting approve a dividend for 2006 of NOK 1.80 per share, excluding shares bought back by the company, equivalent to NOK 442 million. The Board will ask the Annual General Meeting to approve a new mandate for repurchases of the company's own shares.
Program to improve productivity
Storebrand's 'Competitiveness' program was launched in 2006 and will continue to 2009. This program will further improve the quality of work processes and increase the group's productivity. Storebrand expects this group-wide program to deliver productivity improvements in excess of 20%. The sub-projects carried out so far have produced results better than this target.
Increasing the number of products per customer
Greater cross-selling and additional sales to Storebrand's existing customer base represents an area of particular focus for the group over the next few years. Programs have been launched to increase the average number of products purchased by retail customers, employees of corporate customers and customers with paid-up policies. The group's total customer base is well in excess of 700,000 private individuals. Central elements of this initiative are increasing interaction with customers, simplifying purchasing processes and customer incentive programs.
Head office move
Storebrand has decided to move its head office out of Filipstad Brygge. This decision is motivated by the need for greater flexibility for growth and organisational development. The move is expected to generate annual savings in the order of NOK 40 million. The move will take place in the first half of 2009.
Oslo, 14 February 2007
For further information contact:
Egil Thompson, Director of Corporate Communications.
Tel. +47 22 48 95 86 Mobile +47 93 48 00 12
Nils Robert Hodnesdal, Investor Relations. Tel. +47 22 31 55 33 Mobile +47 93 40 38 13
Appendix: Board of Directors' Interim report for Q4 2006