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Suncorp weighs Asteron sale under life revamp

Asteron’s future under Suncorp is uncertain, with the parent revealing it is considering selling the business.

“Following a portfolio review, Suncorp is implementing an optimisation program for its life insurance business to improve competitiveness and achieve better outcomes for customers and intermediaries,” Suncorp CEO Michael Cameron.

“Alongside this program, Suncorp is exploring strategic alternatives for this business to better meet customer needs and maximise shareholder value.”

Asteron recorded a 75% decline in net after-tax profits for the six months to December 31, down to $11 million.

Total annual inforce premium for the six months was flat at $801 million.

Asteron still attracts most of its inforce premium through advisers, with this distribution channel growing by 1.7% in the six months to $653 million.

The strongest growth in distribution came in direct, up 10% to $66 million.

Group life inforce premium fell 14.6% in the half to $82 million. This business is now in run-off.

By product, 47% of premium is derived from term policies, while income protection accounts for 27%. Queensland is still Asteron’s strongest market, with 35% of premium derived from that state, and 26% from NSW.

Asteron’s new business declined 13.2% to $33 million in the half-year. This is blamed on “challenging market conditions including increased regulatory scrutiny”.

Term cover was the strongest area of new sales, accounting for 55% of inflows, with Queensland contributing 29% of the total.

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