February 13, 2020 / 6:50 AM / 7 days ago

UPDATE 1-Insurer NN Group announces plan for share buybacks, dividend hikes

(Adds CEO quote, background, details on results)

AMSTERDAM, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Netherlands’ largest insurer NN Group said on Thursday it will buy back 250 million euros ($271.8 million) worth of shares annually starting this year and aims to increase dividend every year, after it saw operating profit rise 10% last year.

“Going forward we will pay a progressive ordinary dividend per share”, the company’s new Chief Executive Officer David Knibbe said.

“We will also continue to return excess capital to shareholders, with a recurring annual share buyback of at least 250 million euros under normal circumstances.”

Knibbe was appointed as the CEO in September last year, after his predecessor Lard Friese stepped down to join U.S.-focused rival Aegon.

NN Group’s core profit rose to 1.8 billion euros in 2019, following improved results from its casualty, health and property insurance businesses.

Operating profit was up 25% in the last three months of the year, at 428 million euros.

The company’s solvency under Europe’s Solvency II regime edged up to 218% from 217% a year earlier.

$1 = 0.9198 euros Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Shounak Dasgupta

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