The insurer RSA has reported a boost from the plunging pound, which has flattered its results around the world as it continues to restructure its business.
RSA, which makes two-thirds of its profits outside the UK, said the post-Brexit weakness in sterling was lifting its overseas earnings.
"Brexit provides us an attractive tailwind from overseas earnings translation, in the context of an otherwise challenging environment,” said chief executive Stephen Hester.
The pound has fallen between 5pc and 9pc over the past nine months against the Canadian dollar, euro and Swedish and Danish krone from which RSA derives its income. Most of this decline came after the EU referendum on June 23.
Net premiums at the insurer were £4.8bn in the three months to the end of September, or 5pc lower than last year, owing to disposals in Brazil, India, Colombia and Italy that have shrunk the business over the past two years. The remaining “core” business posted a 6pc rise in net premiums.
British sales were “slightly down” on last year as RSA withdrew from brokered car insurance, although telematic insurance, which tracks the driver’s movements, gained in popularity.
“What’s possibly more important than the narrow details of the update is that RSA today is in a very good place compared to where it was historically and even as recently as a year ago,” said Mr Hester. “Instead of a company that’s being turned around, it’s a company that’s en route to being best in class. In an industry that’s generally flat, our results have been rising nicely.”
The group is exploring options for a £1bn portfolio of insurance covering industrial risks such as asbestos, dating as far back as the 1950s, and Mr Hester said he aims to have a decision in time for RSA’s full-year results.
RSA was the subject of a £5.6bn takeover approach last year from Swiss competitor Zurich, which gave up its pursuit in September 2015 after encountering problems in its own business. Since then, shares in RSA have increased from around 400p to 546p.
The FTSE 100 firm said the squeeze in corporate bond values compared to risk-free sovereign debt, known as the spread, had knocked its capital levels under the new Solvency II rules. Its capital ratio fell from 158pc in June to 151pc, although this was still at the high end of its target.