November 10, 2011 / 6:39 PM / in 6 years

Great-West Lifeco profit rises, meets expectations

TORONTO (Reuters) - Great-West Lifeco (GWO.TO), Canada’s second-largest life insurer, said on Thursday its quarterly profit rose 71 percent from a year earlier when litigation provisions hurt earnings.

The profit was in line with market expectations.

Great-West, a division of the Montreal-based Desmarais family’s Power Corp (POW.TO) empire, earned C$457 million ($448 million), or 48 Canadian cents a share, in the quarter ended September 30. That compared with a profit of C$267 million, or 28 Canadian cents a share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Analysts had expected a profit of 48 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Third-quarter 2010 results included a C$204 million cost related to an incremental litigation provision.

Great-West, the last of Canada’s big four insurers to report earnings, said consolidated assets under administration were C$493.3 billion at the end of September. That was up C$6.3 billion from December 31, 2010.

Winnipeg-based Great-West is 68-percent owned by Power Financial (PWF.TO), which is a unit of Power Corp. Great-West sells insurance under the Great-West, Canada Life, London Life and Putnam Investments banners.

Noting the debt crisis in Europe, Great-West said only 3 percent of its invested assets were in bonds of government and financial institutions of euro zone countries as of September 30, 2011.

“The company’s credit market experience remains stable with credit related charges and provisions totaling C$16 million after-tax in third quarter 2011,” it said.

Rival insurers Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) and Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) both reported steep third-quarter losses due to the impact of falling stock markets and low bond yields, but Great-West has far less exposure to market volatility.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; editing by Peter Galloway

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