Aviva shares are leaping after it doubles profits

Aviva's straight-talking boss Mark Wilson won a few more friends in the City yesterday as signs of his company's turnaround finally began to show.

The shares jumped to their highest level for two years after the insurer announced it had doubled its pre-tax profit from £309m last year to £605m during the six months ending June 30.

Aviva shares rose 28.2p to 399p, leaving it at the top of the Footsie leaderboard.

Cash flows to the group increased by 30 per cent to £573m in the period although it lowered its dividend by 44 per cent to 5.6p, in line with the cut made at its full-year results in March.

Mr Wilson was philosophical about the performance, which was helped by a strong showing from Aviva's businesses in the UK, Poland and Turkey offsetting weaker areas like Ireland and Italy.

"I want Aviva to be as precise as a Swiss clock – we're not there yet but we're making progress," Mr Wilson said.

Aviva, formerly known as Norwich Union in the UK, parted ways with its former chief executive Andrew Moss last year following an embarrassing revolt over pay at its 2012 annual meeting.

Since then the group has outlined plans to exit underperforming businesses, cut 2,000 jobs and take out £400m in costs.

Mr Wilson hinted there may be truth in rumours that Aviva could pull out of India, where it has a joint venture with Dabur Group, thought to be worth some $500m.

Chatter in the City suggests the company is on the lookout for buyers for its 26 per cent stake in Aviva Life, as the venture is known.

"We never comment on market speculation," he said, before adding: "We will be watching with interest what India does in terms of raising foreign ownership caps from 26 per cent to 49 per cent."

The half-year update was given the thumbs-up across the square mile.

Barrie Cornes, analyst at Panmure, said: "A big positive was the reduction in internal debt from £5.8bn at the end of the year to £5.1bn.

"With all key metrics at or slightly above consensus we anticipate the results will be taken well."

Standard Life's overseas lift

Standard Life said its fund management business posted third-party net inflows of £7.1bn in the first half yesterday, with 51 per cent from overseas.

David Nish, the company's chief executive, said: "Excellent investment performance has driven exceptionally strong net inflows and the team continue to innovate, develop and launch new products."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Property Underwriter

£70-90,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client a London Market Insurer are seeking a Pro...

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week