Europe News

Generali doubles dividend as profits hit 6-year high

Dividend hike shows confidence: Generali CEO

Generali, Italy's largest insurer by premiums, proposed to more than double its dividend on Wednesday after posting it highest full-year net profit for six years.

The group said it would hike its dividend to 0.45 euros ($0.63) per share after net profits rose to 1.915 billion euros in 2013, up from 94 million euros a year ago, slightly missing analyst expectations.

Chief executive Mario Greco said the dividend boost should send a clear message of confidence to investors.

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"It is I think a message of confidence, this is what the investors should see into that. We are very pleased with the cash development, the capital position is strengthening," Greco told CNBC.

"We are confident, we show this confidence in delivering a much higher dividend that the one of last year," he said.

Simon Dawson | Bloomberg via Getty Images

In the fourth quarter, the insurer recovered from a hefty loss for the same period last year after a write down on a number of its assets. Net profit for the quarter jumped to 324 million euros from a 1.04 billion euro loss the previous year.

"We are no doubt in the the worst economic conditions of the last years, the recession has hit European countries badly, but some non-European countries have been equally hit," said Greco.

"There is no easy solution, we don't have an easy recipe. I think things are getting better, so the economies are starting to move up. We saw that already in Spain, Italy and France this year should also follow," he said.

Greco added that the he was investing in sales and marketing in order to be "close to customers".

He also quashed rumors he was leaving the insurer for Italy's post office, Poste Italiane. He said he was "surprised and amused" after reading the reports.

(Read more: UniCredit to 'focus on growth' after shock loss)

Generali undergoing 'major restructuring' in Italy: CEO

Commenting on Unicredit's record annual loss of 14 billion euros, he said the bank are doing what his firm had to do this time last year.

"I watch it, I think cleaning and restructuring is what this country needs. We cancelled our profits and took huge write offs – I guess Unicredit is doing what we did last year," he said.

By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her on Twitter @jenny_cosgrave