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Life expectancy slowdown boosts Legal & General

They say it is an ill wind that does not benefit someone.

And with people now dying sooner than expected in Britain, the slowing gains in life expectancy are boosting returns at one of Britain’s leading life insurance and investment companies.

Legal & General, the UK’s largest manager of pension assets, has just reported record profits for last year after it was able to release cash from its retirement business.

An easing off in gains in life expectancy is helping ease Britain’s pension deficits – allowing companies to reduce the amount of money they need to hold for future payouts.

Legal & General was able to release more than £332m (€371m) of mortality reserves. This helped operating profit to climb 32pc to more than £2bn (€2.24bn). Analysts in a company-supplied consensus poll had forecast lower operating profits.

Chief financial officer Jeff Davies told a media call: “People aren’t dying quicker… but (the figures) aren’t improving quite as quickly.

“We are factoring in a slightly lower life expectancy.”

Demand for the firm’s pension risk products is at an all-time high, CEO Nigel Wilson said in the interview with Bloomberg News.

The firm is in talks to manage £17bn (€19bn) of the liabilities for clients after completing deals for €3.9bn (€4.36bn) last year.

There’s potential for annuity deals as well, he said.

Shares in Legal & General rose in early trading on the London Stock Market.

There is no evidence of slowing life expectancy in this country.

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