Insurance giant Aviva will focus on its strongest businesses, including UK operations, and withdraw capital from other sectors which fail to meet its strategic objectives, chief executive Amanda Blanc has said.
Blanc made the comments in the firm's H1 results, released this morning (6 August).
Pre-tax profits at took a 30% hit during the first half of the year standing at just over £1bn as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.Pre-tax profit for the group was £1.07bn in H1 2020 compared to just over £1.5bn in the same period in 2019. This was a fall of 29%.
Operating profit for the period was £1.2bn compared to 2019's almost £1.4bn.
Aviva's newly appointed CEO Amanda Blanc has been in the job for a month. She replaced former CEO Maurice Tulloch who stepped down for family health reasons.
Blanc vowed to take "decisive action" to transform performance.
She explained Aviva would focus on its strongest businesses in the UK, Ireland and Canada and where "we cannot meet our strategic objectives, we will take decisive action and we will withdraw capital".
"We must transform our performance and improve our efficiency. This requires great customer service, stronger innovation and better use of our brand. Our transformation will be underpinned by continuing to manage our balance sheet prudently, reducing debt and increasing our financial resilience.
"I have been CEO for one month and I am confident we have many of the ingredients to make Aviva a winner. From this moment on, we must deliver. Nothing else will do. My focus is making sure it happens and at pace," said Blanc.
She also praised her staff's performance during lockdown.
Blanc said: "Aviva's financial performance in the first half of 2020 was solid. Our financial position is strong and operating profit of £1.2bn was robust, thanks to our diverse range of products, excellent partners and our swift operational response to the Covid-19 pandemic. I am proud of the way our people have gone above and beyond to help our customers during this crisis."
She added the board had declared a second interim dividend in respect of the 2019 financial year of six pence per share.
"While the board continues to monitor the impact of Covid-19 and the economic outlook, we have decided to take the opportunity to review our longer-term dividend policy, in light of our strategic priorities and the future shape of the group, with the objective of a sustainable pay-out and lower levels of debt. We will update shareholders on all dividend matters, including the 2019 final dividend in the fourth quarter," Blanc added.
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