Aviva, the largest insurance company in the UK, has recorded impressive growth in profits for fiscal year 2004, built on what the company's management described as managing business for value and the strength of a diversified portfolio.

Worldwide operating profit increased by a quarter to GBP2,344 million, while life operating profit was up 9% to GBP1,611 million. Most impressive was the increase in profit from general insurance, which almost doubled to £1,326 million. Aviva also reported a favorable move in its worldwide combined operating ratio to 96.7%.

Meanwhile, continuing its theme of strength through diversity, Aviva has also completed the acquisition of RAC plc for a considered value of GBP1.1 billion. The deal will provide Aviva the added income of RAC’s roadside recovery business, along with its motor insurance and loans business.

Richard Harvey, group chief executive, commented: Aviva is thriving. This is a strong set of results, delivered by managing our business for value for customers and shareholders. Our diversified business model brings the complementary qualities of long-term savings and general insurance. Our shareholders are seeing healthy dividend growth underpinned by strong statutory profits.

Looking forward, Harvey added: We have come through a period of difficult markets in recent years in excellent shape. Aviva has a strong platform in long-term savings for organic growth and we start 2005 with greater expectations, than a year ago, of steady market growth.