UK insurer Friends Provident has reported 26% growth in new business during the first quarter, buoyed by record sales from its international division.

Life and pensions new sales reach GBP1.3 billion, with new UK business up 23% to GBP856 million and international business up by 34% to GBP475 million.

Friends Provident’s international arm posted record quarterly results, up 49% to GBP241 million.

Ben Gunn, chief executive of Friends Provident life and pensions, said: The UK has seen a continuation of the trends established in 2005, set against a changing legislative environment. Preparations for Pensions A-Day went smoothly and our industry-leading service levels have enabled us to capitalize on increased activity in the pensions market. The Budget brought changes to inheritance tax rules but will have limited impact on Friends Provident.

We have maintained strong growth momentum, and the prospects are bright for all our life and pensions operations.