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Insurer NN Group Q1 core profit surges 50%, beats estimates

The flags of ING Bank and insurance company Nationale Nederlanden (NN) wave in front of the ING head offices in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Michel Porro | Getty Images

Insurer NN Group on Thursday beat expectations with a 50% surge in first-quarter core profit at 468 million euros ($524.6 million), as the performance of its Dutch life insurance business improved.

Analysts polled by Reuters on average expected operating result to rise to 415 million euros from 313 million euros in the year-ago period.

The year "2019 started of well", Chief Executive Lard Friese said, as he singled out a 72% increase in new sales.

All business segments contributed to this increase, Friese said, especially in Japan, where NN benefitted from changing tax rules for corporate-owned life insurance.

'Great start to the year' for NN Group, CEO says

Operating results of its life insurance business improved 26% in the Netherlands and 28% abroad, helped by a dividend from its former South Korean business.

Lower fees decreased core profit at NN's asset management business by 12% at 36 million euros, while pension reforms in Romania took a bite out of the profit of its European insurance segment.

NN Group's capital adequacy measure under Solvency II rules dived to 213% at the end of March, from 230% three months earlier, due to a 500 million euros share buyback programme and persistently low interest rates.