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UK-based assurer Friends Provident...

... has reported a net loss of £557m ($784m) for 2008 on a European Embedded Value basis, compared with a net loss of £59m in 2007 — a year where there were significant one-off losses. Investment losses in 2008 amounted to £611m, compared with a £45m loss the year before. Friends Provident reported an underlying pre-tax profit of £420m, up from £16m the previous year. CEO Trevor Matthews said that ‘we are maintaining our capital strength, our prudent approach to accounting and our dividend policy, all of which position us well in the current conditions”. The dividend of 3.9p per share for the year compared with 8p per share the previous year. Friends Provident will also create a new holding company to pay the dividend. Investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Greig Paterson observed that the company’s “large UK-focused life franchise is likely to feel the negative impact of the current ‘1929’ event more than any other demographics and product areas”.

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