December 7, 2017 / 9:33 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-L&G says on track for record year in 2017

(Adds analysts comment, share price)

LONDON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Legal & General is on track for a record year in earnings and profits, the British life insurer said on Thursday, helped by strong performances in its retirement and funds businesses.

Legal & General has large businesses in Britain and the United States and concentrates on annuities, which pay a fixed income for life, as well as investment management.

It has also been growing in the bulk annuity market, which involves taking on the risk of company defined benefit, or final salary, pension schemes.

This is seen as an expanding market as many schemes are in deficit and companies want to offload them.

“Our business is now well-positioned and focused on the products and geographies where we see optimum growth and cultural alignment,” Chief Executive Nigel Wilson said in a trading update.

A day earlier L&G said it had agreed to sell a book of closed life insurance policies to a unit of Swiss Re for around $870 million.

The insurer said sales at its retirement business for 2017 to date stood at 6.2 billion pounds ($8.29 billion) supported by strong UK and U.S. institutional pension risk transfer markets, individual annuities and lifetime mortgages.

It said annuity sales year to date had generated 4.5 billion pounds of annuity premium, compared to 2 billion in the first half, and that it had doubled its U.S. institutional pension risk transfer business versus 2016.

Analysts at KBW, however, said the 4.5 billion pounds sales figure came in below their expectations. Annuity sales stood at 7 billion pounds in 2016, they noted, reiterating their “underperform” rating on the stock.

At 0910 GMT, shares in L&G were up 0.53 percent at 263.1 pence, compared with a 0.23 percent rise in the FTSE 100 index.

$1 = 0.7479 pounds Reporting by Clara Denina; editing by Jason Neely

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