Irish Life dividends to parent near €850m since purchase from State

Group’s new life assurance business sales rose to €650m from €565m in 2019

The government bought Irish Life in 2011 from Permanent TSB (PTSB), then known as Irish Life & Permanent, for €1.3 billion in order to limit the taxpayer bailout bill for PTSB. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The government bought Irish Life in 2011 from Permanent TSB (PTSB), then known as Irish Life & Permanent, for €1.3 billion in order to limit the taxpayer bailout bill for PTSB. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

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Irish Life Group paid an €85 million dividend to its overseas parent last year, driven by gains from an asset sale, bringing total payments since it was bought from the State during the financial crisis to €849 million.

The latest payout, made to its immediate parent, UK-based Canada Life Limited, came even as Irish Life did not receive any dividends last year from its life and pensions and health insurance units, as the Central Bank pressed insurers to postpone shareholder payouts amid uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

Separate accounts for the main subsidiary, Irish Life Assurance, show that its net profit remained stable at €97 million last year, as new life assurance business sales rose to €650 million on an annual premium equivalent basis from €565 million for 2019. Corporate life sales rose as retail life sales declined.

The total level of dividends paid out by Irish Life since it was acquired by Great-West Lifeco in Winnipeg eight years ago equates to more than 65 per cent of the €1.3 billion purchase price. The group has also reinvested heavily to develop the business over the period.

The government bought Irish Life in 2011 from Permanent TSB (PTSB), then known as Irish Life & Permanent, for €1.3 billion in order to limit the taxpayer bailout bill for PTSB. It subsequently sold the business in 2013 for the same price to Great-Life Westco.

Irish Life Group, the holding company for the Republic’s largest life assurance and pension company and third-largest health insurer, delivered a net profit of €86.6 million last year.

This was largely driven by an almost €70 million gain from the sale last year of a third-party administration solutions business, called IPSI, to UK-based financial technology company FNZ. The total consideration for the deal amounted to €95 million, the annual accounts reveal.

Irish Life is led by chief executive Declan Bolger.

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