CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-RSA back to H1 profit, says turnaround ahead of schedule

Thu Aug 7, 2014 4:41am EDT

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(Corrects third paragraph to show loss was made in H2, 2013, not H1)

By Simon Jessop

LONDON Aug 7 (Reuters) - British insurer RSA bounced back to profit in the first half of the year and said it was ahead of schedule in its turnaround plan under the helm of recently appointed Chief Executive Stephen Hester.

After weather-related losses and accounting irregularities at its Irish arm hit its finances last year, Hester has set about raising money to fix the firm's balance sheet and sell off non-core assets.

The company chalked up an interim pretax profit of 69 million pounds ($116.20 million) on Thursday after recording a loss of 494 million pounds in the second half of 2013, and said it was making "good progress" in stabilising its financial health.

"RSA's Action Plan is going well. Since announcing it five months ago, we have made strong progress improving strategic focus and capital health. Good work is also underway on cost, portfolio actions and the management line-up to drive future performance," Hester said in a statement.

Net written premiums fell to 3.9 billion pounds in the six months to end-June, down 9 percent or 3 percent on an underlying basis, weighed by performance in the UK and Western Europe.

Premiums in Scandanavia rose 2 percent, in line with RSA's expectations, while Canadian premiums fell 2 percent.

The company added that the tangible equity to premium ratio was 33 percent against 19 percent at end-December, and that it was planning to restart its dividend at the full-year results. ($1 = 0.5938 British pounds) (Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Richa Naidu)

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