Standard Life half-year profit up 18% to £341m

Standard Life Aberdeen CEO Keith Skeoch

Shares of Edinburgh-based investment, pensions and insurance group Standard Life rose about 5% after it said its half-year operating profit before tax increased by 18% to £341 million amid international expansion and a big move by the group into the UK’s “advised platform market.”

Assets under administration increased by 7% to £328 billion, benefiting from net inflows of £900 million and “positive market and other movements” of £19.7 billion.

The Standard Life Investments division grew its assets under management by 6% to £269.0 billion compared to £253.2 billion at the end of 2015.

The company’s interim dividend rose 7.5% to 6.47p per share.

“Standard Life continues to make good progress towards building a world-class investment company, against a backdrop of volatile investment markets, by growing assets, profits, cash flows and returns to shareholders,” said Standard Life chief executive Keith Skeoch.

“Despite elevated uncertainty we are benefiting from our strong long-term relationships with a broad range of clients and customers who reacted in different ways to the changing market environment.

“The increase in the stake in HDFC Life and the proposed combination with Max Life will increase our exposure to the attractive and fast growing Indian market, while the agreement to acquire Elevate will strengthen our leading position in the advised platform market.

“Targeted investments to further our diversification agenda, together with our sharpened focus on operational efficiency will increase our pace of strategic delivery.

“This will ensure we continue to meet changing client and customer needs and generate sustainable returns for our shareholders.”

In its outlook, Standard Life said the first half of 2016 “can only be characterised as a challenging external environment.”

“While it would be rash to extrapolate the economic and political noise of the last six months, it is clear that the uncertainty that always accompanies economies, politics and markets will remain elevated,” the company said.

“This will reinforce the global trends that are shaping the savings and investment landscape, which Standard Life’s long-term strategy is designed to take advantage of.”