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Irish Life chief "optimistic" that group can return taxpayer cash

The Irish Life group reports profits of €112 million for the first half of 2012, boosted by the splitting-off of Permanent TSB.

A woman passes the Irish Life headquarters in Dublin. The group has recorded profits of €116 million for the first half of 2012.
A woman passes the Irish Life headquarters in Dublin. The group has recorded profits of €116 million for the first half of 2012.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Irish Life group has said he is “optimistic” that his company can repay the taxpayer’s investment into the group in full.

Kevin Murphy made the comments as the group reported profits of €112 million for the first half of 2012 – boosted by the separation of the heavily loss-making bank Permanent TSB.

The company said it made a profit of €96 million between January and June, which was boosted on an embedded value basis, following a 6 per cent increase in the sale of life assurance policies and investments.

The €112 million contrasts with a loss of €5 million reported on the same basis for the equivalent period in 2011.

Permanent TSB, which was legally separated from the group earlier this year following the complete takeover by the Minister for Finance, last month reported a loss of €566 million for the same period.

Murphy described the group’s performance as very satisfactory and commented that the group’s “multi-product business model” meant some aspects of its business were able to compensate whenever others were under pressure.

He added that the group was “very conscious” of the support given to the bank by the taxpayer, “and we are determined to ensure that this can be repaid fully as soon as practicable”. The combined Irish Life & Permanent group has received €4 billion in public support.

While the immediate outlook for the group remained difficult, “ultimately the economy will stabilise and recover and its clear that we are very well positioned to benefit from that when it occurs”, he said.

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“In the meantime our focus is firmly on managing costs,” he added.

Irish Life is the largest payer of private pensions operating in Ireland, while the group also holds a 49 per cent stake in GloHealth and a 30 per cent holding in Allianz’s Irish operations.

Read: “No surprise” as PTSB reveals €566 million loss for half year

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Gavan Reilly

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