August 29, 2019 / 7:18 AM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 1-Chesnara profit rises; warns low interest rates to hit cash generation

(Adds CEO comments, details from statement)

Aug 29 (Reuters) - Pension and life insurance administrator Chesnara Plc posted higher first-half profit, as its Dutch and UK units benefited from better investment market conditions, but it warned low interest rates will strain its cash generation.

Pretax profit more than doubled to 66.6 million pounds ($81.76 million) for the six months ended June, the company said on Thursday, driven by its UK and Scildon businesses.

Scildon provides risk and investment-linked products in the Netherlands that are sold to high-net-worth customers through brokers.

Chesnara’s shares jumped 6.4% to be among the top gainers on the FTSE small-cap index in early trade, on track to recoup some of the near 20% year-to-date drop as of Wednesday’s close.

However, divisional cash generation plummeted to 2.4 million pounds, a fraction of the 53.1 million pounds reported a year earlier.

“We foresee a sustained period of low interest rates and this will continue to put a degree of downward pressure on our cash generation,” the company said.

Phoenix, Chesnara’s larger rival, had said in August that the money coming into its open book business had been reduced by Brexit-related worries.

Chesnara’s Chief Executive Officer John Deane, however, said the company did not need to make any immediate changes to its structure regardless of the possible form of Brexit.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson planning to suspend Britain’s parliament for more than a month before Brexit, many believe that a no-deal departure is more likely.

Chesnara’s economic value earnings (EcV) net of tax, a measure adopted by European insurance companies to make their results more meaningfully comparable, rose to 645.1 million pounds from 626.1 million pounds a year earlier.

That also came in above the 640 million pounds estimated by Peel Hunt analysts.

$1 = 0.8145 pounds Reporting by Muvija M and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sriraj Kalluvila

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