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(Reuters) — Italy’s top insurer, Assicurazioni Generali SpA, said it was ready to look around for growth opportunities in Europe, Asia and the U.S. on Thursday and said it was well-positioned to achieve the targets it set in November for the years until 2021.
Europe’s No. 3 insurer has earmarked up to €4 billion ($4.5 billion) for acquisitions and growth as it looks to asset management and other higher margin businesses to fuel earnings.
“I confirm all the targets of the plan (including) an annual EPS (earnings per share) growth target of between 6% and 8%,” Chief Executive Philippe Donnet said in a media call.
Generali earlier said it had increased operating profit by 3% last year and that it would pay a dividend of €0.90 per share, up from €0.85 the previous year.
“We believe Generali’s new strategy is well on track and the current dividend yield is still very attractive,” Banca Akros analyst Enrico Esposti said following the results.
Shares in Generali were up 1.1%, in line with the European insurance sector, at 1552 GMT.
Mr. Donnet, who has been CEO since 2016, said Generali would seek selected insurance acquisitions in Europe and asset management deals outside, especially in Britain, the United States and Asia.
And in the past three years, Generali has raised €1.5 billion from disposals, exiting several nonstrategic countries.
The insurer said its net profit last year rose 9.4% to €2.3 billion, in line with an analysts’ consensus forecast of €2.38 billion, while operating profit stood at €4.86 billion, just above expectations of €4.82 billion.
Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. has completed the sale of its Belgian unit Generali Belgium S.A. to Bermuda-based reinsurer Athora Holding Ltd., Xprimm reports. Generali will continue to provide its global business lines and Europ Assistance insurance and assistance solutions in Belgium even after the sale. The sale forms a part of the group's strategy to optimize its geographical footprint and improve its operational efficiency and capital allocation.