Aviva New Business Growth Driven by Europe and Asia Operations

Aviva plc, the U.K.’s second-biggest insurer by market value, reported a 15 percent rise in new business in the first nine months of the year, driven by its European and Asian operations.

The value of new business, a measure of future sales, reached 690 million pounds ($1.1 billion) in the period, up from 619 million pounds a year earlier, the London-based company said in a statement today. New business rose 40 percent in Europe and 47 percent in Asia.

“Aviva’s turnaround is delivering,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson said in the statement. “The steps we have taken to focus and strengthen the group mean we are in a different position to two years ago.”

The New Zealand-born CEO has sold assets, exited markets and cut costs to rebuild capital and pay down debt since succeeding Andrew Moss in 2013. Aviva’s shares have surged 15 percent in 2014, making it the second-best performing U.K. insurer behind RSA Insurance Group Plc, which is also reducing costs and selling assets.

In the U.K., Aviva’ life operations returned to growth in the third quarter, with an 18 percent increase in the value of new business. The measure fell 9 percent over the nine-month period after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s pension changes in his March budget led to a slump in individual annuities.

Aviva more than doubled its revenue from corporate pension deals in the first half of the year as it sought to recapture lost business.

For Aviva’s general insurance business, the combined ratio, or claims and expenses as a percentage of premiums, improved to 95.9 percent.