Aviva Management Discusses H1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Aviva (AV)

H1 2012 Earnings Call

August 09, 2012 4:30 am ET

Executives

John McFarlane - Chairman

Patrick C. Regan - Chief Financial Officer, Finance Director, Director and Chairman of Disclosure Committee

Trevor John Matthews - Executive Director of Developed Markets, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Aviva UK

Analysts

Nick Holmes - Nomura Securities Co. Ltd., Research Division

Ashik Musaddi - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Oliver Steel - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

James Pearce - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Andrew Broadfield - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Gordon Aitken - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Barrie Cornes - Panmure Gordon & Co. plc, Research Division

Andrew Crean - Autonomous Research LLP

Colin L. Simpson - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Jon Hocking - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Marcus Barnard - Oriel Securities Ltd., Research Division

Presentation

John McFarlane

Good morning, everyone. Now it's just 1 month since I last spoke to you about the plans through to 2014. And as you'd expect, well, there's been a lot of activity inside the company in that period. The consequences of that are going to find their way into announcements not today, but over the coming months.

So first, let me deal with the interim result. Operating performance was largely in line with expectations. Of course, the main new news was the write-down of the goodwill in the U.S., following a review of its recoverability.

As I also said last month, there was a desire to hold the dividend, and that's what we've done in the half.

So notwithstanding the subdued external environment, a number of our businesses performed well, including the U.K., Canada, Poland and Singapore, and so that's been good. Others were affected, for example, by currency, in particular Europe.

Turning to the company overall, last month, we announced the results of the strategic review of 58 main businesses within the group. I'll remind you that, that concluded that we had 16 businesses that were non-core, to be exited; 15 were stand out; and there were 27 that operated around our cost of capital.

We also announced our intention to bring our capital levels up from current levels to a range of 160%-175% coverage to reduce the volatility of capital at the same time and to reduce leverage and to lower our cost by GBP 400 million.

And as a result, we ceased writing bulk purchase annuity transactions. We brought down our holdings in Delta Lloyd to below 20%. We've completed disposals in Hungary, Czech Republic and Romania. Our Italian debt holdings have been reduced by EUR 2 billion, and we plan further reductions in that when the circumstances permit, when the yield is sitting at 5.82% in the 10-year at the moment. So we really need that to drift down a little bit so that we can do that without an impact on our P&L. So that's our thinking on that.

We also began the process of disposing or running down the non-core businesses. We've appointed investment banking advisors to 10 that are planned to be sold and are in the process of reducing capital levels in capital hungry segments. We're also considering plans to improve the returns of the 27 medium return business cells.

On expenses, we are nearing the finalization of the delayering of the group. There were announcements this week, and when completed should save a significant part of the total target savings. We've also begun a review of head office, support activities and non-staff costs across the group.

As part of instituting individual accountability, each of the group executives now have revised performance objectives, and they'll be held accountable for delivering these, and that will form the basis of their variable remuneration. We've also eliminated all unnecessary committees and meetings to allow people to spend more time on our business and more time with customers.

We've also reduced the distance between the CEO and the customers, which was quite deep before.

And finally, we continue to evolve the board, which is now down to 11 people. And we expect further movement over the remainder of this year and into next year.

Anyway, it's my sense that we have got the right agenda. We've got the right people in place to execute it, although we are needing to appoint a CEO.

We are broadly on track with the program we set out last month. Over and above the actions we've already taken, you can expect further announcements in the second half and other announcements next year. And I remain confident that we'll do exactly as we said we would going forward. Thank you.

And now, I'll pass you to Pat.

Patrick C. Regan

Great, thanks, John. Good morning, everybody, nice to see you all here again. I didn't notice, actually we've put some Team GB Chocolates for everyone to enjoy in the bowls if you haven't seen.

On the results, as John said, operating results I think broadly in line with expectations. GI a little bit better than expectations, Life partly impacted by foreign exchange, euro versus sterling. We booked some additional operating costs in the first half, Solvency II and the first wave of implementing the simplified program. We have taken a decision to write down the goodwill in the U.S., I'll come back to it obviously in a bit more detail later.

Operating capital generation, up about GBP 100 million, less capital consumed in new business. New business profitability staying at pretty steady levels, both General Insurance and on the Life side. And our economic capital and IGD ratio is pretty stable versus both what we told you a month ago and versus the first quarter.

Looking at the operating profit in a little bit more detail, and we're trying to put kind of a reconciliation kind of big picture on what's going on here. So General Insurance is up, I think probably given we'd sold the RAC, and we had some additional weather costs, that's come through a bit stronger than general expectations and Life U.K. good, slightly offset by Eurozone and FX.

So big picture, some underlying profit growth generally in the General Insurance area. Last year, we made just under GBP 50 million from the RAC, so sold that and that comes out.

In weather, this is just versus last year. So if you look at against our long-term average, actually, it's slightly above our long-term average, but not, not much, but it's more than last year, last year was quite benign, and that's mainly in the U.K., a bit in Ireland.

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