Insurer Standard Life has posted significantly improved first quarter results which were ahead of market expectations as the mutual prepares for a key vote by members on whether the company should float on the London Stock Exchange.

New business was reported as GBP30 million for the first quarter of the year, compared to GBP33 million for the whole of the previous year. The results are out the day before Standard Life’s 2.4 million members vote on whether the society should demutualise and become a listed company.

UK life and pensions new business was GBP26 million in the first quarter compared to GBP27 million for the whole of 2005. Sales totaled GBP2.64 billion in Q1 on the basis of the present value of new business premiums (PVNBP), against GBP9.37 billion for the whole of the previous year.

Standard Life has set itself a target post tax operating return on opening embedded value in 2007 of 9-10%.

I believe that these results further underline that the business has made a strong start to 2006, and demonstrate we are progressing well in building a business for the future. The business target gives a clear indication of our ambitions for Standard Life, commented chief executive Sandy Crombie.