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Annuities growth fuels Challenger profits

Challenger has reported a net profit after tax of $149 million for the six months to December, up 17% on the previous corresponding period.

Its life business revenue grew 55% to $1.98 billion – comprising $1.06 billion in retail sales and $921 million in institutional sales.

Challenger’s retail annuity sales have grown at a compound annual rate of 33% over the past four years.

“There are several long-term drivers of this demand, including the start of the Baby Boom retirement wave, changes in retirees’ risk preferences to favour secure income investments and a growing awareness of greater longevity risk due to mortality improvements and medical advancements,” MD and CEO Brian Benari said.

The Liquid Lifetime and Care Lifetime annuities in particular have reported strong sales, he says.

“The care annuity is the fastest-growing annuity product in Challenger’s history; with about 58,000 people moving into aged care in 2011 alone, this represents a large, fast-growing and under-served market.”

Future annuity sales are expected to be aided by new channels – such as the white labelling agreement with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank – and industry super funds co-branding Challenger annuities.

The life division’s cash operating earnings for the six months to December increased 7% to $225 million.

Challenger says implementing the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s life and general insurance capital changes will lead to a $323 million increase in the life business’ capital requirement.

In the transitional period the capital rise will phase in at about $108 million per year over three years, with the first increase due next January 1.

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