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Assets plunge at Phoenix but CEO welcomes SVB rescue

 ( Phoenix Group )
( Phoenix Group )

SAVINGS giant Phoenix saw its assets plunge by £46 billion this year due to market turmoil that was only increased by the higher interest rates that followed the Liz Truss mini budget in September.

Phoenix looks after the pensions of 12 million Britons, typically funds that are now closed to new business. Brands include Standard Life and now Sun Life of Canada, bought recently.

CEO Andy Briggs says the fall in assets to £259 billion was down to “interest rates and market movements”. But on a day of wider financial turmoil he insisted, “we were as resilient as ever”.

Briggs, formerly of Prudential, Lloyds and Friends Life, welcomed the HSBC deal to rescue the UK arm of Silicon Valley Bank.

“I am very pleased to see HSBC step in. It is important the UK builds on its thriving tech sector,” he said.

Phoenix Group shares are typically held by income funds that rely on its dividend. This year a 5% increase in the final divi to 26p will be paid.

The shares themselves have been less useful – they were down 17p to 600p today, leaving the FTSE 100 business valued at £6 billion.

Depending on which accounting measure is used, Phoenix either made a profit of £1.24 billion, or a loss of £1.76 billion.

Briggs says Phoenix remains deal hungry as more and more pension funds look to seek safety inside a bigger group.

He added: “It is clear that 2023 will present a challenging economic backdrop. However, our business model is designed to be resilient throughout the economic cycle.

"All of which means we expect to see continued organic and M&A growth, to support us in delivering cash, resilience and growth, enabling us to pay a dividend that is sustainable and grows over time.”