November 29, 2018 / 7:46 AM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-UK insurer Phoenix beats cash generation target for 2017, 2018

(Adds details on cash targets, background)

Nov 29 (Reuters) - British life insurer Phoenix Group Holdings said on Thursday it beat its cash generation target for 2017 and 2018, as companies continue to offload their pension risks.

Phoenix, Europe’s largest owner of life assurance funds closed to new customers, bought a bulk of Standard Life Aberdeen Plc’s insurance business this year and has been looking for more bulk annuity purchases as many schemes are in deficit and companies are seeking ways to offload the risk.

The company said on Thursday that it has closed two more bulk annuity deals in the second half of this year, after completing a 470 million pound deal with the Trustees of the Marks and Spencer Pension Scheme in May.

Deals to shed part or all of the liability to specialist insurers are expected to total a record 21.5 billion pounds by year-end, smashing a previous record of 14 billion pounds, but 2019 could be even better.

Bulk annuities typically involve the transfer to an insurer of company defined benefit, or final salary, pension schemes.

Phoenix’s cash generation hit 1.3 billion pounds ($1.67 billion) in 2017 and 2018, higher than the 1 billion pounds to 1.2 billion pounds targeted range.

The insurer’s comments mirrored British retirement services specialist Just Group, which last month posted a double-digit jump in third-quarter new business sales thanks to demand from companies to offload pension-scheme risk.

($1 = 0.7796 pounds)

Reporting by Muvija M and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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