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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Pension sales help to lift Aviva
Aviva's Richard Harvey
Aviva chief Richard Harvey sees opportunities in China and India
Aviva saw better-than-expected sales in the first nine months of 2004, helped by increased take-up of pensions and life assurance in the UK and Europe.

The UK's largest life insurance group saw sales to the end of September rise 7% to 1.85bn($3.38bn).

Aviva, which trades as Norwich Union in the UK, saw "early signs" of a gradual recovery in the UK market.

Weak stock markets hit the insurance sector last year, deterring consumers from investing spare cash in stocks.

Aviva said on Friday that consumer confidence in the equity market was returning.

Analysts had been forecasting sales of about 1.79bn.

Sales in the UK rose 6% to 849m and Aviva's profit margin was 26.4%, compared to 25% in the same period last year.

Asia bound

Aviva said it had seen "strong" performances in the UK, France and the Netherlands, and underlying sales increases in Italy and Spain, despite less favourable market conditions in those markets.

We've taken further steps towards our long-term ambition to be a significant player in the Asia life market
Richard Harvey, Aviva chief

'We've taken further steps this quarter towards our long-term ambition to be a significant player in the Asia life market," said Aviva chief executive Richard Harvey.

Aviva has opened two new offices opened in China and formed a new relationship with Punjab and Sind Bank in India, both markets where "demand for long-term savings products is increasing steadily".

Currently, sales in India and China account for just below 1% of overall sales but the company says this could reach 10% by 2009.

The company has previously announced plans to outsource jobs to India and Sri Lanka as part of a move to have up to 7,000 posts overseas by 2007.

Norwich Union moves jobs to Asia
22 Sep 04  |  Business
Sumitomo eyes Aviva's Asia units
07 Sep 04  |  Business
Savings boost lifts Aviva profits
04 Aug 04  |  Business

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