Royal & Sun Alliance, the UK's second largest general insurer, has announced strong H1 results and robust returns in each of its core businesses, attributable in part to the company's ongoing restructuring program. The six-month period also saw the insurer expand its Scandinavian business and underwrite a higher number of premiums.

H1 net profit was GBP195 million, more than double the GBP82 million in the same period a year earlier. Operating profit for the half-year stood at GBP329, a 126% increase on GBP145 million from the same period in 2004.

It has been a good first half of the year, with strong performance from our core businesses and further progress in the US, said group chief executive Andy Haste.

Haste took the reins at RSA in April 2003, and has since then supervised a plan to exit new business in the US, sold overseas operations and cut expenses to concentrate on the UK general insurance market. The group said its restructuring plan has delivered GBP214 million in annual cost savings.

The first half of fiscal 2005 has also seen the insurer sign a bancassurance agreement with Swedbank, Sweden’s fourth-biggest bank, that will allow RSA’s motor and household insurance products to be sold through Swedbank branches

The company continues to make progress in disposing of its US ventures. In July, Royal & Sun announced the sale of its non-standard auto business for approximately $200 million. The sale, due for completion at the end of the year, will reportedly reduce the number of regulators the group deals with from six to four.