Sun Life targets C$2 billion operating income by 2015

Thu Mar 8, 2012 6:35pm EST
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO: Quote) plans to boost its operating income to C$2 billion ($2.01 billion) in the next three years by focusing on high growth businesses and riding an expected improvement in stock and bond markets, the company's chief executive said.

Dean Connor, who took over from longtime CEO Donald Stewart in December, announced the goal as part of his new strategic plan for the Canadian life insurer, which has seen its earnings tumble from comfortably above the C$2 billion mark - and had its share price hammered - over the past four years largely because of market-related losses.

"We have a very good business here, and the challenge we set for ourselves is to make it the best performing life insurer in Canada," Connor told a crowd of analysts at the company's head office in Toronto.

Connor began putting his imprint on the company in December when Sun Life announced it would stop selling variable annuities and individual life insurance in the United States to focus on group insurance and voluntary benefits there.

He said on Thursday the company will continue to build its position in those businesses, while trying to improve its performance in Canada and build up its comparatively small presence in Asia.

"Asia will form a much larger part of Sun Life in the future," he said, pointing to favorable demographics in the region. The company's operations there are focused in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, India and mainland China.

"The demand (in Asia) for what we do should double every three to five years for many years to come as millions of people are pulled out of poverty into the middle class," he said.

Sun Life's MFS asset management business will be expanded beyond its traditional base in the United States to be a more global business.   Continued...