Phoenix pays £527m divi as cash generation tops £2bn

Phoenix Group-Standard Life office in Lothian Road, Edinburgh

Shares of Phoenix Group Holdings plc, owner of Standard Life, rose as much as 9% after it published 2023 results showing total cash generation of £2.024 billion and an increased full year dividend for shareholders of about £527 million.

The group said the £2.024 billion cash generation “exceeded our upgraded target of c.£1.8bn for the year, including a c.£400m benefit from the Part VII transfer of Standard Life and Phoenix Life as announced in November.”

Phoenix reported that its IFRS adjusted operating profit before tax increased 13% to £617 million.

The group’s board is recommending a 2.5% increase in the final 2023 dividend to 26.65p per share. Total 2023 dividend will rise 3.6% of 52.65p. The 2023 interim dividend totalled £260 million and the final 2023 dividend totalled £267 million.

Phoenix has a business model that includes the acquisition of portfolios of life insurance policies to optimise their cost and capital requirements. It has benefited from a booming market in bulk annuities, where insurance giants buy pension obligations from companies.

Phoenix Group CEO Andy Briggs said: “Phoenix’s vision is to be the UK’s leading retirement savings and income business, and we are making great progress in delivering our strategy to achieve this, as our strong 2023 financial results demonstrate.

“We have achieved our 2025 growth target two years early with £1.5bn of new business cash delivered by our Standard Life business – a new record.

“We delivered over £2bn of cash generation and maintained our resilient balance sheet, and our strong performance has enabled the board to recommend a 2.5% dividend increase.

“The next phase of our strategy will see us balance our investment across our strategic priorities to grow, optimise and enhance our business.

“This will support us in delivering the ambitious new 2026 targets we are announcing today. Our confidence in this strategy is demonstrated by the new progressive and sustainable dividend policy we will operate going forward.”

Edinburgh investment giant Abrdn has a strategic partnership with Phoenix and retains a 10.4% shareholding in the group. Standard Life Aberdeen, now called Abrdn, sold Standard Life Assurance Limited to Phoenix Group Holdings for £3.28 billion in August 2018.