Profits from Nordea’s life and pensions operations increased by 20% in the first half of this year to €84m on the back of higher profits generated by both unit-link and traditional with-profits products, the Nordic and Baltic banking group said.

In its interim report, Nordea also posted a 16% increase in gross written premiums to €3.9bn in the six months to the end of June, from €3.4bn in the same period the previous year.

Commenting on the business growth, Nordea said: “A solid sales momentum of market return products in the Nordea Bank channel continues to be the main driver behind the strong sales.”

The Nordea branches had been responsible for two-thirds of the total sales produced during the second quarter of 2014, it said.

The rise in operating profit was attributable to a profit increase from market return products – driven by strong growth in assets under management (AUM) – combined with a higher profit contribution coming from traditional with-profits products, according to the report.

These traditional products had, in turn, seen their profits increase as a result of strengthened financial buffers, Nordea said.

The balance between unit-link assets and traditional with-profits assets shifted past the halfway mark, with unit-link accounting for 51% of AUM in the life and pensions division at the end of June, up from 45% at the same point last year, according to the report.

In terms of contributions, the company said, market return and risk products accounted for 90% of total gross written premiums in the second quarter, up 3 percentage points from the end of the previous quarter, and up from 86% in the second quarter 2013.

Meanwhile, at Nordea Liv & Pension, the Danish pensions operation, the return on traditional with-profits products before PAL pensions tax was 7% in the first half, up from the 0.4% loss suffered in the same period the year before.

Unit-link returns came in at between 4.4% and 8.5%, the Danish business said, without giving year-earlier figures.

In absolute terms, the return on unit-link products was DKK2.3bn (€308m) in the first half.

Overall, the business’s profit on assets and liabilities was 3.7% in the six-month period, up from 1.7% in the same period last year.

Pre-tax profit was DKK387m, up from DKK297m.