February 7, 2018 / 10:54 AM / 11 days ago

Storebrand sees increased dividends, but exposed to financial turmoil

OSLO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Norwegian life insurer and pensions provider Storebrand expects to have increased capacity for dividend payments going forward, as it benefits from growth in the savings market and higher interest rates, but adds financial turmoil is a risk:

** “Outlook is good. We are well positioned in a significantly growing market both for pensions and individual savings,” Storebrand Chief Executive Odd Arild Grefstad told Reuters after presenting results for the fourth quarter

** “At the same time, it is clear that we are exposed to financial markets. When there is turmoil, it also affects us, but we are one of the few listed companies that is well positioned to benefit from rising interest rates,” he said

** “The rise in interest rates is very positive for Storebrand and will strengthen the solvency and dividend capacity further”

** Storebrand aims to pay out excess capital “as fast as possible”, but has not considered quarterly payouts

** “We will primarily do annual dividends with a possibility of share buy-backs along the way,” the CEO said

** “We expect strong growth in savings. Our Unit Linked reserves increased by 20 percent in 2017 and total assets under management is up by 25 percent. Although growth might not be above 20 percent going forward, we certainly expect good growth also in the coming years,” he added

** Says underlying cost level is flat, and is on track to meet target for cost cuts in 2018

** Storebrand also said it will present new cost target at its capital markets day, due in May (Reporting by Camilla Knudsen, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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