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Profits rise at UK's Prudential; NN CEO joins Aegon; Sampo cuts Nordea stake

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of insurance news stories and more published throughout the week.

UK insurers book yearly increase in first-half profits

* Prudential PLC logged operating profit from continuing operations of £2.02 billion in the first half, up from £1.67 billion a year ago due to strong performance from the Asia business. Its board increased the first interim ordinary dividend to 16.45 pence per share from 15.67 pence per share a year ago.

* Admiral Group PLC reported group share of profit before tax of £220.2 million in the first half, up from £211.7 million a year earlier. Admiral said the adverse impact of the new Ogden rate of minus 0.25% on the first-half result was £33.3 million.

Other European companies post solid results

* Talanx AG's second-quarter group net income after noncontrolling interests grew 10.8% to €242 million from €219 million in the prior-year period. Germany-based Talanx also raised its outlook for group net income in 2019 to more than €900 million.

* NN Group NV reported a 30.7% year-over-year increase in second-quarter net result to €606 million from €463 million.

* Aegon NV reported first-half net income of €618 million, up 26% from €491 million a year ago, reflecting realized gains and lower other charges. Aegon said it is considering buying longevity reinsurance and tapping private equity to unlock capital from its Dutch life insurance business.

Industry news

* Global economic losses from natural catastrophes and disasters caused by human activity amounted to $44 billion in the first half, compared to $51 billion in prior year period, according to Swiss Re Institute's preliminary sigma estimates. Global insured losses from natural catastrophes fell to $15 billion from $21 billion the year before, while insured losses from human-caused disasters decreased to $4 billion from $5 billion.

In other news

* NN Group CEO Lard Friese will leave the Dutch insurer to join Aegon as CEO-designate on March 1, 2020. David Knibbe will succeed Friese as CEO at NN Group, effective Oct. 1, subject to Dutch central bank approval.

* Finnish insurer Sampo Oyj lowered its stake in Nordea Bank to 19.87%. As of June 30, Sampo controlled 21.33% of Nordea, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

* Aegon announced it will wind down its Mexican asset management joint venture Akaan Transamerica as it failed to meet its financial objectives.

* McGill & Partners signed an agreement with Marsh Ltd. and JLT Specialty Ltd. to acquire renewal rights to certain specialty business from Marsh in London.

* U.S.-based Navigators Group Inc. will no longer write marine hull business out of London, Insurance Insider reported.

Featured during the week on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Global reinsurance M&A to continue amid tough conditions, S&P says: The rating agency anticipates more deals like Axa/XL and Markel/Nephila, but does not expect consolidation among the top 10 reinsurers.

Motor insurance rates will keep rising because of claims lag: Admiral UK CEO: The pending whiplash reforms could reduce prices less than expected because claims have tailed off, Cristina Nestares told analysts.

Talanx CFO says industrial unit will hit combined ratio target despite H1 result: Immo Querner also said the company would not "sit idle" now that it expects to achieve its target improvements in industrial fire business ahead of schedule.