Having delivered a year of strong growth following a difficult period, AGF has seen its share price hit an all time high as investor and market confidence returned.

French insurer AGF, 60% owned by German insurance titan Allianz, boosted profits by 18% in 2005. The improvements were down to the introduction of better efficiencies and sound asset management. The next challenge will be to achieve significant business growth, AGF said.

Net profit totaled a very healthy E1.6 billion, up 18%. Excluding the effect of converting to IFRS in Belgium, it rose 32%. AGF said the increase in net profit was due to improvements in underwriting results and from high-quality asset management, which included, in particular, the sale of the group’s stake in Gecina.

In other highlights, AGF’s consolidated combined ratio declined by 2 points to 93.4%; and new business value surged by 73% to E144 million. Following the positive financial returns AGF said it will increase its dividend to E3.6 per share, a rise of 38%.

According to Reuters, AGF shares increased by over 3% on the news to break the E80 mark and set a new record high.