EUROPE - Profit at Nordea’s life and pensions division jumped in the fourth quarter as improved financial buffers allowed the business to recognise some fees earned earlier in the year as income.

Operating profit was €92m in October to December 2011, up from €10m in the third quarter.

But full-year 2011 profit was lower compared with the 2010 number, at €208m against €350m.

In its interim report, Nordea said of the division: “The fourth quarter’s operating profit was strong at €92m, reflecting the improved financial buffer situation as approximately €29m in fees relating to the period January-September were recognised as income in the year-end closing.”

By year-end, around €50m was still booked on the fee reservation account, the Nordic banking group said.

Danish financial rules prohibit fees passing to shareholders when reserves are below a certain level.

Gross written premiums totalled €1.3bn in the fourth quarter, up 9% from the previous quarter on the back of strong year-end sales, Nordea said.

The life and pensions division continued its strategic focus to shift its product portfolio towards capital-efficient products in the fourth quarter, it said.

One effect of this was that 69% of total premiums were directed into unit-linked, premium guarantee traditional or pure risk products, it said.