Aviva profits beat expectations

Chief executive maintains there is no need to respond to Prudential.

Britain's second largest insurer Aviva beat its 2009 profit expectations thanks to cost cuts. The company also said that it does not feel any pressure to respond to Prudential's takeover of the Asian arm of AIG.

Aviva's main focus is Europe, which accounts for over half its revenues. The company said that the European market is set to grow more in absolute terms than Asia, adding that Asian insurers face possible threats from increasingly consumer-focused regulation.

Chief executive Andrew Moss told reporters that: "Nobody argues that economic growth in parts of Asia is not going to be strong, but the actual characteristics of our business are not driven just by economic growth," adding that more onerous regulation will "probably be the trend" across the region.

He claimed that prospects for growth in Europe are strong, citing a study by consultants Oliver Wyman. The report predicts the region's life market will grow by $1.7trn over the next five years, higher than the $1.5trn predicted for Asia (excluding Japan).

Aviva's operating profit rose by three per cent last year to £3.48bn ($5.24bn), exceeding the £3.01bn forecast by analysts.