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Phoenix 2022 operating profit up 1%; to increase dividend 5%

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - British life insurer Phoenix on Monday said 2022 operating profit rose 1%, higher than analysts had expected, and forecast cash generation of up to 1.4 billion pounds ($1.69 billion) this year.

Phoenix, which specialises in books of life insurance business, also said that it would increase its dividend by 5% and that it would continue to assess possible mergers and acquisitions.

Operating profit of 1.245 billion pounds in the year compared with 1.230 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected group operating profit of 1.134 billion pounds.

Cash generation, a key metric for the group, was 1.504 billion pounds, down from 1.717 billion pounds a year earlier. It was, however, higher than the 1.448 billion pounds analysts had expected.

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The global insurance industry in 2022 has faced challenges from expenses related to the war in Ukraine, soaring inflation, interest rate increases, and big claims from storms.

Phoenix Group CEO Andy Briggs pointed to a "challenging economic backdrop".

($1 = 0.8262 pounds)

(This story has been corrected to change million to billion in paragraph 3)

(Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Paul Carrel)