EUROPE - Profit at Nordea Life & Pensions, one of Denmark's main commercial pensions providers, rose by more than a third last year, with sales reaching record levels in the final quarter.

Pre-tax profit rose to €367m in 2010 from €271m the year before. The investment result was 8.2% for the year, up from 6.4% in 2009.

Nordea Life & Pensions is a division of the Nordea banking group and covers all four Nordic countries, as well as Poland.

Commenting on Nordea's group results, chief executive Christian Clausen said the well-balanced growth strategy the company launched at the beginning of the year had delivered results.

"The strategic initiatives have contributed to continued strong access to customers and many businesses, which has led to record levels of turnover," he said.

"At the same time, we have strengthened the balance sheet. We have improved our position with regard to capital, liquidity and funding to fulfil the demands of the new regulations."

Gross premium income at the Life & Pensions division rose to the record level of €1.46bn, Nordea said, representing a 24% increase from the previous quarter and a 20% increase compared with the same quarter 2009.

The company said strong customer demand at bank branches continued in the fourth quarter, with the focus remaining on unit-linked products.

Sales via the branch network accounted for 59% of total premium income, of which 58% came from unit-linked products.

Investment assets expanded to €43.7bn in 2010 from €38bn. Within this assets total, there was a swing away from bonds and toward unit-linked assets.

Bonds dwindled to 45% from 52%, while unit-linked assets rose to 33% from 25% of the total.

Profit from the division's traditional with-profits business was up 32% year-on-year, at €306mn in 2010 from €231 in 2009, while profit from unit-linked business climbed 37% to €74m from €54m.

The banking group attributed the increase in assets under management to a net increase in investment inflows of €400m, as well as growth in the value of holdings within unit-linked products.