After Axa, Bupa acquisitions, Friends' new business rises 51 % in Q1 2011

New business at Friends Life was 51 per cent higher in the first quarter of 2011, boosted by the acquisition of Axa UK Life and Bupa Health Assurance in addition to strong group pensions sales.

Total sales in the first quarter of 2011 stood at £270 million APE (annual premium equivalent) as against £178 million for the same quarter in 2010, with £66 million of the £92 million increase due to the acquisitions. Friends Provident business sales was up 15 per cent over the period.

Group pension sales surged 71 per cent to £113 million over the quarter, as Friends Provident contributing £85 million acquired Axa UK Life businesses which contributed £28 million.

The Friends Life brand was launched March end, which brought together Friends Provident, the acquired Axa UK Life businesses and BHA.

Trevor Matthews, chief executive of Friends Provident Holdings (UK) plc, said, ''The figures show a solid start to the year for our new company, Friends Life. In the UK, underlying performance and the significantly increased size and scale of the company are reflected in a near doubling of new business on an APE basis. With clarity on our chosen individual and group protection models and key markets, significant developments underway to our workplace savings proposition, and following our successful launch as Friends Life in March, we are looking forward to continued progress and improving the performance of our company during 2011.''

According to Colin Williams, director of corporate business for Friends Life the company's positive results would be used to launch the platform new workplace savings, called Next Generation Solutions, in the summer.