EUROPE – UK-based pensions and savings provider Aviva says its European pensions business rose 5% in 2002 – with the outlook buoyed by pensions reform across the continent.

Aviva said in a statement that its continental European life and pensions sales were up 5% on an annual premium equivalent basis and that such sales now represent 43% of its worldwide life and pensions new business.

Chief executive Richard Harvey said: “The long-term growth dynamics for our business remain very good, as evidenced by governments across Europe addressing savings and pension reform.”

On a worldwide measure, its life and pensions business rose 2% to 2.37 billion pounds (3.6 billion euros) in the year to the end of December 2002. Its long-term new business sales slipped slightly to 14.6 billion pounds (22 billion euros) from 15.0 billion pounds in 2001.

“Investment sales continue to be held back by difficult market conditions and investor caution,” the company said.

“As the largest life and pensions provider to Europe, we have delivered a solid performance over the past twelve months, despite the challenging conditions which have affected the savings industry as a whole,” said Harvey.

“We expect these difficult market conditions to continue this year and some markets may contract further in the short term.”

He added that Spain and Italy were strong performers in 2002. Spain grew by 38%, aided by distribution deals with Unicaja and Caja Espana.