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Legal & General expects 12 billion sterling in bulk annuities in 2019, to issue debt

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By Reuters
Legal & General expects 12 billion sterling in bulk annuities in 2019, to issue debt
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Legal & General insurance company is seen at their office in central London, Britain, March 17, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico   -   Copyright  Alessia Pierdomenico(Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) – Legal & General <LGEN.L> expects to transact 11.5 billion pounds in bulk annuities this year, and plans to issue sterling-denominated debt, the British insurer said in a business update on Tuesday.

L&G is one of the biggest players in the bulk annuity market, which involves taking on some or all of the risk of a company defined benefit, or final salary, pension scheme.

The market is growing but requires hefty amounts of capital to back it, according to European Union insurance solvency rules.

L&G said it expected to launch the bond “shortly”.

“We remain disciplined in our deployment of capital, and our balance sheet and net cash flow are strong,” Chief Executive Nigel Wilson said.

“We are taking advantage of favourable market conditions to raise debt.”

L&G has transacted 8.5 billion pounds in bulk annuity deals in the year to Oct 31, and said it was in exclusive negotiations on a further 3 billion pounds that it expected to complete before year-end.

The bulk annuity market is expected to hit a record of at least 40 billion pounds this year, though the market remains small compared with the 2 trillion pounds in liabilities in the final salary pension sector.

L&G struck some of the biggest bulk annuity deals this year, including a 4.6 billon pound deal with the Rolls-Royce UK pension fund in June. Its main rivals are unlisted specialist firms Pension Insurance Corporation and Rothesay Life.

L&G sold 829 million pounds in individual annuities, which pay pensioners a fixed income for life, in the year to Oct 31, up 34% year-on-year.

But sales of equity release mortgages fell 15% to 823 million pounds. The mortgages enable householders to take out cash against the value of their home, which would be repaid after they die or move into long-term care.

Legal & General Investment Management, one of the biggest investors in the UK stock market, saw net flows of 83 billion pounds in the year to date, bringing assets under management to 1.2 trillion pounds.

The business update “indicates strong H2 results”, Shore Capital analysts said in a note, reiterating their buy rating on the stock.

L&G’s shares were up 1.1% at 284 pence at 0910 GMT, compared with a 0.75% rise in the FTSE 100 <.FTSE>.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by Jason Neely)