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Suncorp Australia earnings drop, NZ business jumps

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Suncorp Australian insurance earnings fell 13.7% last financial year while its New Zealand result surged on premium gains and benign weather.

Profit after tax for the Australian business fell to $588 million in the year to June 30 from $681 million, mainly due to higher natural hazard costs in the first half and weaker investment markets.

Gross written premium (GWP) increased 1.3% to $8.25 billion, with increases in rates offsetting lower new business in consumer areas and portfolio exits in commercial.

“This reflects our disciplined portfolio realignment, with strong premium rate increases partially offset by the selective non-renewal of poorer risks,” CFO Jeremy Robson said.

New Zealand insurance earnings surged 76.4% to a record $NZ261 million ($249 million), including life and general insurance, as GWP rose 8.4% and the country experienced an unusually low claims year for natural hazards following benign weather.

Suncorp Group net profit fell to $175 million, down from $1.06 billion a year earlier, including a $910 million non-cash loss on the sale of the life business.

The group also said that Marketplace CEO Pip Marlow would leave the company at the end of the month amid a shift in focus and some broader organisational changes.

Lisa Harrison, who has been responsible for delivering the business improvement plan, will take on the new role of Chief Customer and Digital Officer.

Suncorp’s contact centres, stores and intermediary distribution teams, which currently sit in the Customer Marketplace function, will be moved to the insurance and banking divisions.

Ms Marlow, who was MD of Microsoft Australia when she was recruited by Suncorp in December 2016, is set to become CEO for Salesforce Australia and New Zealand in October.