UPDATE 1-French growth at life insurer CNP offsets LatAm weakness

Thu Jul 31, 2014 2:47am EDT

(Adds details on currencies, premium income, partnerships)

PARIS, July 31 (Reuters) - France's biggest life insurer, CNP Assurances, reported first-half net profit up 3 percent as revenue growth in its main French market helped offset weakness in Latin America.

First-half group net profit was 601 million euros (805.1 million US dollars) while net revenue rose 1.8 percent to 1.625 billion, the company said in a statement.

Net insurance revenue rose 7.0 percent in France but declined by 4.2 percent in Latin America, negatively affected by the Brazilian real's depreciation.

On a like-for-like basis smoothing out the impact of currency variations, Latin American revenues rose 13.5 percent.

CNP generates more than 25 percent of its premiums outside of France, with Brazil and Italy its largest foreign markets.

The group's premium income rose 12.5 percent in the first half to 15.764 billion euros benefitting from strong growth in its French savings business, where sales of unit-linked investment products surged by 58.7 percent.

The company said that its purchase this month of a 51-percent stake in Banco Santander's life and non-life insurance business would boost its solvency ratio by about three points.

Finance director Antoine Lissowski said on a conference call with journalists that the company was regularly looking at other partnerships, but did not elaborate.

CNP currently distributes its products in France through French bank BPCE and state-owned Banque Postale, which together own a 36 percent stake in the insurer, but the partnership agreement with BPCE runs out at the end of 2015. (1 US dollar = 0.7465 euro) (Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by James Regan and Andrew Callus)