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RSA buoyed by Canada and emerging markets in first quarter

FTSE 100-listed insurance giant RSA reported an 'encouraging' start to 2013 and said that it remains on track to hit its full-year targets after a good first quarter.

FTSE 100-listed insurance giant RSA reported an 'encouraging' start to 2013 and said that it remains on track to hit its full-year targets after a good first quarter.

Reported net written premiums increased by 7.0% in the first three months of 2013 from £2.27bn to £2.43bn, up 5.0% on a constant currency basis.

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"The growth in net written premiums reflected good customer retention together with continued robust rating action," said Chief Executive Simon Lee.

The company saw strong growth in Canada (+18%) and the emerging markets (+16%) make up for more subdued growth in its largest market of the UK & Western Europe (+2.0%). Scandinavia, its second-largest region, saw premiums rise 4.0%.

The firm said it is continuing the active management of its portfolio in the UK & Western Europe and is delivering on the strategy to refocus the business, reduce exposure to less attractive segments and continue to grow in areas that will deliver shareholder value.

Meanwhile, the company's investment portfolio totalled £14.90bn in the first quarter, up 4.0% on the fourth quarter of 2012, helped by a positive foreign exchange movement.

"We entered 2013 with good momentum. It has been an encouraging start to the year for the group with reported premium growth of 7.0%. We believe there are significant opportunities to drive further value across the group," Lee said.

RSA said it is confident of delivering its target for a combined ratio (a measure of profitability used by insurers) of better than 95% - any ratio below 100% means that a company is making more money from premiums that it is paying out in claims.

The company is targeting a return of equity of 10-12% for 2013.

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