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AMP: Declining profitability ahead

AMP shareholders will reap the benefit of the sale of its trans-Tasman insurance business, which the financial services provider says it quit out of fears of declining profitability.

Friday, November 2nd 2018, 6:00AM

It is closing its life insurance business in Australia and New Zealand to new customers and selling it to Resolution Life.

AMP says it will return to shareholders the majority of the net cash proceeds of the $3.73 billion deal on settlement, "subject to unforeseen circumstances".

There are just under 80,000 New Zealand-based AMP shareholders, many of whom have held shares since AMP was transferred from a mutual to a listed company in 1998.

AMP said new chief executive Franscesco De Ferrari was committed to returning the money to them.

AMP also provided a rationale for its decision to offload its insurance business, and to look to list the New Zealand wealth management business next year.

It said the Australian wealth protection business had been permanently affected by structural changes in the life insurance industry globally and the changing Australian regulatory environment.

There was increased competition from global competitors, who benefitted from lower costs of capital, greater scale and geographic diversification.

It expected further deterioration in profitability of the industry and more investment would have been needed to meet future regulatory requirements.

Its New Zealand insurance business had a low growth profile and performance was declining. It was vulnerable to potential future deterioration in the New Zealand life insurance market, AMP said.

The New Zealand wealth protection and mature business reported a drop in profit from A$71 million in the 12 months to the end of last year to A$61m in the 12 months to June 30.

It had considered spinning off the New Zealand insurance business but that would have required significant upfront capital and additional operating costs as a standalone business. It would have released no capital to the group.

The information has been revealed as a number of Australian investors protest the sale plans.

Merlon Capital Partners has called for AMP to hold a special meeting for shareholders to consider changing its constitution or removing the board to ensure the deal with Resolution is dropped.

A spokesman for AMP in New Zealand said it had heard no complaints of that sort in this country.

Tags: AMP

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