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Just Retirement sees 8.6% decline in sales

Just Retirement has reported a 8.6% decline in sales for the six months ended December 2008, despite seeing a 10.7% increase in equity release mortgage advances.

Equity release mortgage advances grew from £73.9m in 2007 to £81.8m for the same period in 2008.

But annuity policies fell by 13.1%, down from £313.1m last year to £272.1m for the six months ending 2008.

It had overall sales of £353.9m in the six months, down from £387m in the same period a year earlier and says it is still in discussions regarding a possible offer for the group.

Mike Fuller, chief executive of Just Retirement, says: “Our first half sales performance reflects the Group’s focus on profitability given the challenging market conditions for annuity writers.

“A significant level of deferrals compounded by reduced maturity values in pension plans impacted sales volumes, while unprecedented widening in credit spreads on corporate bonds affected the pricing environment and the value of our assets under management.

“Against this background, we have deliberately priced to win more profitable annuity business, securing over £270m of annuity sales at positive margins.

“Critically, we have grown our equity release sales by 11% in the six months. We have also revised our embedded value assumptions to reflect better the way we believe credit defaults will emerge versus current implied spreads.”

Fuller says current trading remains in line with its expectations, while the revised embedded value assumptions will drive a material increase in full year new business value compared to the prior basis.

He adds: “We have a robust capital position, strong cashflows, are writing profitable business and are well-positioned in a market poised for substantial growth when normal conditions return.”

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