Utrecht,
21
February
2018
|
06:57
Europe/Amsterdam

Strong results in 2017, outperforming targets

Summary

Net result increased in 2017 by 37.5% to € 906 million in 2017 with all business segments contributing to the increase.

Foto+pand

Operating result strongly increased

  • Operating result increased 17.2% to € 729 million (2016: € 622 million[1]), with all business segments contributing to the increase. In Q4, at € 179 million, the operating result remained virtually unchanged compared with last year (Q4 2016: € 177 million).
  • Operating return on equity amounted to 15.6% for 2017, which is well above the target of ‘up to 12%’.
  • Combined ratio amounted to 95.1%, which is an improvement of 0.5% point (2016: 95.6%). Operating result in the Non-life segment rose 26.5% to € 172 million mainly due to the exceptionally low level of claims in H1 2017.
  • Operating result in the Life segment rose 13.2% to € 633 million mainly due to higher investment income.
  • Net result increased 37.5% to € 906 million (2016: € 659 million) due to a higher operating result and higher realized investment returns.

Substantial increase in dividend due to higher operating result; introduction interim dividend in 2018

  • Proposed dividend of € 229.7 million, assuming a pay-out ratio of 45% conform dividend policy.
  • Dividend per share of € 1.63, an increase of 28.3% (2017: € 1.27)[2].
  • Introduction of interim dividend in 2018 set at 40% of the previous year’s total dividend (based on proposed dividend for 2017: € 0.65 per share), within the framework of dividend policy.

Robust balance sheet and continued strong Solvency II ratio

  • Solvency II ratio[3] (standard formula) as at 31 December 2017 amounted to 203% before, and 196% after dividend.
  • Organic capital creation of € 377 million; representing 11.0% of the required Solvency II capital.
  • Solvency II capital position very robust; 84.7% consists of Tier 1 capital, headroom of over € 1.5 billion across all tiering categories.
  • Cash position of the Holding amounts to € 463 million, which is well above target (€ 350 million). Financial leverage comfortable at 25.3%.
  • Privatisation of a.s.r. successfully completed in September 2017; a.s.r. repurchased 9 million of own shares (€ 255 million) in 2017.

Solid operating results with increase in Non-life premiums and new asset management mandates

  • Gross written premiums in the Non-life segment increased by 6.0% to € 2,579 million driven by an increase in the number of new customers and premium increases in the existing portfolio. Life segment decreased from € 2,013 million to € 1,453 million mainly due to the one-off effect of two acquired portfolios in 2016.
  • Banking and Asset Management segment acquired new external mandates (including commitments for 2018) for € 1.8 billion.

Execution of strategy on track with selective acquisitions

  • Focus on customers leads to a further increase of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) from +36 to +40.
  • Acquisition of Generali Nederland announced in 2017 finalised on 5 February 2018.
  • Acquisition of First Investments finalised in December 2017.

Jos Baeten, CEO: ‘2017 was a good year for a.s.r. We welcome the successful completion of the privatisation process and the strong results in the form of an increase in our operating result, robust solvency and a proposed dividend of € 229.7 million. Discipline in implementing our strategy led us to exceed all our medium-term financial targets in 2017.

I am also pleased with the progress we have made in our non-financial targets. We continued to work throughout the year to provide our customers with the best possible service. Our success in doing so was confirmed by the appreciative comments we received. Last year’s Net Promoter Score for customers went up from +36 to +40 and for intermediaries from +50 to +57. Their appreciation was also reflected in a growth of more than 32% in the number of Vernieuwde Voordeel Pakketten (non-life insurance packages) sold and in a 48% increase in premiums for the WerknemersPensioen (employee pension). a.s.r.’s brand awareness also rose in 2017, and we are increasingly being recognised as a socially responsible insurer. We are proud of these results.

In Non-life operations, our expertise was translated into a 6% increase in premiums, while we simultaneously managed to reduce our cost base by € 3 million. Our expertise is also reflected in our capacity to perform successful migrations and conversions. In 2017, for example, we completed the integration of the funeral business portfolio of NIVO into the Life segment and brought a number of large and complex migrations at Individual Life to a successful conclusion. Our strategy focuses on value over volume. We therefore decided to withhold from current pricing in the market for ‘BeZaVa’ and to accept that, as a consequence of that, gross written premiums in Disability would not reach our initial expectations.

To accelerate the digital transformation, a separate department was set up last year. The focus here is on responding to customers' need to communicate more and more digitally. With the deployment of a robot to carry out simple mutations, employees can focus on tasks with more added value for customers. The department also focuses on assessing new (insurtech) initiatives and on developing and testing own initiatives.

We believe that profitable growth and serving the public benefit can go hand in hand. We demonstrate this through the many initiatives we take, such as the recent creation of a joint venture for the successful occupational reintegration of cancer patients and the creation of a new credit ESG fund in which external investors can participate. We recently announced our intention to provide, in conjunction with Triodos Bank, € 600 million in financing to sustainable businesses over the next four years.

The Distribution and Services segment had a commercially successful year with, among other things, a rise in income from commissions. The Banking and Asset Management segment also showed commercial improvement, with an increase in income from fees.

Our Solvency II ratio, which is based on the standard formula, is robust at 196%, taking into account the dividend proposal. With a Solvency II ratio based on just Tier 1 capital of 166%, the quality of our solvency is high. The issuing of a restricted Tier 1 bond further increased a.s.r.’s financial flexibility.

The sharp increase in the operating result allows us to pay a higher dividend. Based on the 2017 results, we propose a cash dividend payment of € 229.7 million. This is € 1.63 per share, an increase of more than 28% compared to last year. As of this year, we also propose paying out interim dividends, which will be set at 40% of the dividend of the previous year (€ 0.65). We strive for a stable growing dividend per share in the long-term.

After the closing of the transaction at the beginning of February, Generali's customers are welcomed at a.s.r. The management of Generali Nederland has been brought into line with the governance of the other a.s.r. business units. The migration plans for the customers of Generali Nederland to the a.s.r. environment are currently being worked on. As of June 1, the new colleagues will move to Utrecht.

In September 2017, NLFI sold the remaining interest in a.s.r. on behalf of the Dutch State. In the 15 months since the initial public offering in June 2016, a.s.r. has made a full return to the stock market. Looking back on the process from nationalisation to full privatisation, we are proud of the way this was achieved.

This is an achievement that would certainly not have been realised without the effort and dedication of our employees. We are grateful to them for their significant contribution to this process. We encourage our employees to define their own career path and take the necessary steps to remain permanently employable. For this reason, a.s.r. and the trade unions agreed their own CBAs for all a.s.r.-employees at the beginning of 2018, of which lifelong employability is the fundamental basis.

We will continue to focus on long-term value creation in 2018 for our customers, shareholders and other stakeholders. The acquisition of Generali Nederland will contribute to this, albeit still modestly in 2018. In order to further emphasise the long-term in our business operations, we have decided to present our financial results every six months rather than every quarter, with effect from this year. The next update will be on 29 August 2018. We will hold our first Capital Markets Day on 10 October 2018. This is a platform to outline our strategy in more detail and to present renewed medium-term financial targets.’

Key figures

(in € millions, unless per share or expressed as a percentage)

2017

2016

restated

Delta (%)

Operating result

729

622

17.2%

Operating return on equity

15.6%

14.6%

1.0%-p

Profit/(loss) for the year (on IFRS basis)

906

659

37.5%

Return on equity

21.2%

17.0%

4.2%-p

Gross written premiums

3,920

4,328

-9.4%

Operating expenses

-584

-569

2.6%

Combined ratio (Non-life segment)

95.1%

95.6%

-0.5%-p

New production (Life segment (APE))

89

152

-41.4%

 

 

 

 

 

31 Dec. 2017

31 Dec. 2016

Delta (%)

Total equity

5,432

4,471

21.5%

Total equity attributable to shareholders

4,432

3,780

17.2%

Solvency II ratio (standard formula)

196%

189%

7%-p

Financial leverage

25.3%

25.2%

0.1%-p

Cash position at holding level

463

354

30.8%

Number of FTEs (internal)

3,493

3,461

0.9%

 

 

 

 

 

2017

2016

restated

Delta (%)

Operating earnings per share

3.53

2.88

22.6%

Ordinary earnings per share (on IFRS basis)

1.63

1.27

28.3%

Number of shares issued and outstanding at end of year (m)

141.0

150.0

-

Weighted average number of issued and outstanding shares (m)

144.6

150.0

-

Further notes to the table

  1. The IFRS figures for 2016 have been restated. Property development has been reclassified from discontinued operations to continuing operations. Operating result is recalculated for the recognition of a.s.r.’s own pension scheme.
  2. Operating result represent profit or loss before tax adjusted for (i) investment income of an incidental nature (including realised capital gains, impairment losses and realised and unrealised changes in value) and (ii) incidental items not relating to ordinary activities, e.g. as a result of accounting changes, consulting fees for acquisitions, restructuring expenses, start-up costs and shareholder-related expenses.
  3. Operating return on equity is calculated by dividing the operating result before tax net of interest on hybrid capital and taxes (tax rate: 25%) by the annual average equity attributable to shareholders net of the reserve for unrealised gains and losses and the equity for real estate development (operations in run-off).
  4. Operating earnings per share are calculated by dividing the operating result before tax net of interest on hybrid capital and taxes (tax rate: 25%) by the weighted average number of outstanding shares.
  5. Ordinary earnings per share are based on the weighted average number of issued and outstanding ordinary shares.

Footnotes

[1] Operating result has been adjusted, related to the result of a.s.r.’s own pension scheme, excluding the current net service cost.

[2] Proposed dividend for 2017 based on 141 million shares. Dividend for 2016 based on 147 million shares.

[3] Excluding a.s.r. bank. Solvency II ratio including a.s.r. bank at 195% after dividend.