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IR Blog

Why invest in Sampo?
IR Blog provides information about Sampo as an investment case and the Group's businesses and markets.

2 July 2021

Pre-Q2 Q&A

In this blog entry, we have compiled questions we have received from investors and analysts during the second quarter.

 

How has the claims environment been in Q2?

During the second quarter, there were no major weather events, although there has been some localised unsteady weather, such as a period of heavy rain in Sweden and a couple of small storms in Finland.

Regarding to COVID-19 situation, the general activity has started to improve towards the end of the first half of 2021 after the spring lock-up periods.

How will the sale of Nordea shares in late May affect Sampo?

The gross proceeds of the transaction were EUR 1,377 million. Since the sale price of EUR 8.50 per share exceeds the book value of Nordea in Sampo’s balance sheet, Sampo will make a sales gain of approximately EUR 93 million, including recycling of previously recognized other comprehensive items of approximately EUR -30 million, from the transaction. The sales gain will be treated as an extraordinary item. Thus, it will not affect Sampo’s dividend.

In addition, the transaction will improve Sampo’s Solvency II ratio as the market risk decreases.

How will Sampo use the proceeds from the Nordea share sale?

As we communicated in the Capital Markets Day in February, Sampo is committed to return possible excess capital to its shareholders while maintaining a strong but efficient balance sheet.

Most of the proceeds from the latest sale will be consumed to further bring down the Group leverage ratio. In June, Sampo launched a debt buy-back, which is expected to be completed in Q3. In addition, there’s also one bond maturing in September.

Options for the rest are to re-deploy it in the business or return to shareholders, depending on where the returns are the highest.

Would the potential excess capital be returned to shareholders in dividends or through buybacks?

Both options are on the table and to be considered when the time is right. Some of our shareholders prefer dividends, others see buybacks as a better option.

Will Sampo sell more Nordea shares soon?

In connection with the latest transaction, Sampo entered into a lock-up undertaking, under which it has, subject to certain exceptions, agreed not to sell any Nordea shares for a period ending at 23 August 2021.

After that, the options naturally depend on Nordea’s performance and the share price, but also on ECB’s announcements on the dividend and buyback restrictions for banks.

Sampo has owned Hastings for over six months now. How do you feel about the acquisition?

Hastings has had a good start and the skills and knowledge transfer program between Hastings and If is progressing well. Due to the pandemic and heavy lockdowns, the UK motor market has been challenging, but Hastings has achieved a good profit growth through disciplined approach and strong margin development in Q1. We expect Hastings to get more opportunities for top line growth as the pandemic lifts.

What levers does Sampo have to grow its P&C insurance profits?

Sampo’s largest business, If, will continue to benefit from its pan-Nordic presence and being the leader in digitalization while pricing at least claims inflation and continuous cost focus and other initiatives will support margins.

Topdanmark has launched a bunch of digitalization initiatives that will further improve its efficiency. With regard to Hastings, we are confident that the company can take more market share in the medium term.

Mandatum has made a lot of changes recently. What are these about?

Mandatum is broadening its new business proposition to include a wider range of asset management products. This should help to support earnings development on top of the capital generated from the run-off of the old with-profit book.

How have the capital markets developed from Sampo’s perspective?

In the equity markets, the good momentum has continued, supporting especially Mandatum, which has the highest exposure in equities within the Group. In the fixed income market, there have been no major movements during Q2.

How have the key currency rates developed during Q2?

Both the Swedish Krona and the Norwegian Krone have strengthened against the Euro compared to Q2/2020. This will have a small positive effect as If’s figures are converted to euros.

If’s competitor Tryg sells Codan Denmark to Alm. Brand. Any thoughts about the transaction?

We don’t expect the transaction to cause any major changes in the Nordic P&C markets, which are expected to remain favorable.

Was Sampo interested in buying Codan?

We already have a strong presence in Denmark through Topdanmark and If. Thus, Sampo was not interested in buying Codan and did not participate the bidding process.

Mirko Hurmerinta

IR and Communications Specialist, Sampo plc

1 June 2021

Introducing Sami Taipalus, the new Head of Investor Relations at Sampo

Sami_Taipalus_blogi.jpg

Sampo announced on 27 May 2021 that Jarmo Salonen, 62, the Head of Investor Relations, has decided to step down after serving our shareholders for 20 years in his position. Jarmo will continue as senior adviser in the Group until his retirement.

Sami Taipalus, 37, who joined Sampo in August 2020 to work on strategic projects within the Group Finance unit, starts as the new Head of Investor Relations today.

Sami, where do you live and how do you spend your free time?

“I live in Täby, just outside of Stockholm. I have two young children so much of my spare time is taken up with their activities, which include various sports and trips to the park, beach and countryside. I love football and although I no longer play myself, I coach my older son’s team. I am also a foodie, so I like to go out to eat something nice or cook at home when I get a chance.”

Tell us a bit about your work background

“I have spent my whole career working with P&C insurers. I started as an actuarial analyst at Tillinghast, which was then part of Towers Perrin, after which I worked briefly in a similar role in the London Market. In 2010, I moved to Berenberg to work as an equity analyst specializing in insurance companies and then I moved again to Goldman Sachs in 2017 to do the same job. As an analyst, I worked mainly on European P&C companies, including those in the Nordics and UK. In 2020, I joined Sampo to work on certain projects within the finance function.”

You used to work as an equity analyst. What skills or qualities can you bring to this side of the table from your previous career?

“As an analyst, I have discussed the strengths and weaknesses of many insurance companies countless times with investors over the last decade. This has helped me build a good understanding of what investors value in insurers and how to communicate this.”

How would you describe good IR communication?

“In my view, the key objective for an IR team is to communicate the purpose, competitive strengths and financial plan of a business, since these are what make it success in the long term. I believe that transparency and regular communications with investors and analysts are essential to build confidence in the business and its trajectory. I also think it is important to recognize that all investors are different and therefore require different types of contact and information. For example, in Sampo we have a strong contingent of retail investors, so we will make sure that these also get top quality access to the company.”

You have been working at Sampo for almost a year. What has been the best and what are you looking forward to the most?

“Due to COVID-19 it has been a strange time to join a new company – I have had lot of Teams meetings but met few people face to face. Nonetheless, I have very much enjoyed my time at Sampo thus far, as I have worked on interesting projects with excellent people. I have learnt a lot since joining the group.

Now I am looking forward to meeting our shareholders and analysts to discuss Sampo and the markets we operate in, not least since the insurance industry is going through significant changes that I think our business is very well positioned to navigate. As someone that considers himself Finnish, Swedish and British in roughly equal measures, I am naturally also very much looking forward to working in a group with our operational footprint.”

Mirko Hurmerinta

IR and Communications Specialist, Sampo plc

5 May 2021

January-March 2021 results – Q&A

Sampo’s first quarter of 2021 was very strong across the Group. Profit before taxes amounted to EUR 632 million (162) and earnings per share was EUR 0.82 (0.26). It was the best-ever Q1 in the Group’s history, if the sale of Sampo Bank in 2007 is not taken into account.

Sampo’s core business, P&C insurance, reported its best-ever operational results. The Group’s underwriting profit was EUR 317 million and combined ratio 81.2 per cent.

Sampo’s largest subsidiary, If reported a profit before taxes of EUR 257 million (129) and an underwriting profit of EUR 213 million (180). If’s combined ratio improved to 81.5 per cent (83.7). Following the strong performance in the first quarter, If’s combined ratio outlook for 2021 improved to 82 – 84 per cent from below 85 per cent.

  1-3/2021 1-3/2020 Change, %
Profit before taxes 632 162 290
If 257 129 99
Topdanmark 137 -13 -
Hastings 46 - -
Associates 126 86 47
Mandatum 76 -16 -
Holding (excl. associates) -11 -24 -54
Profit for the period 526 139 278
      Change
Earnings per share, EUR 0.82 0.26 0.56
EPS (incl. change in FVR), EUR 1.39 -1.71 3.10
NAV per share, EUR* 23.28 19.82 3.46
Average number of staff, FTE 13,204 10,303 2,901
Group solvency ratio, %* 189 179 13
RoE, % 26.0 -33.2 59.2

*) Comparison figures of 31 December 2020.
The figures have not been audited.

 

How did the coronavirus pandemic affect If’s business in the first quarter?

The pandemic continued to lower the claims frequency, which decreased claims costs especially in motor and travel insurance. The effect of the pandemic on If’s risk ratio was approximately 3 percentage points positive in the first quarter.

In terms of premium income, the sale of travel insurances decreased significantly due to the pandemic. In addition, the premium effect in the corporate segments was noticeable and mainly related to workers’ compensation insurance in Finland. For If as a whole, the pandemic had not a significant effect on premium volume.

What were the drivers behind If’s strong results in the first quarter?

The result was partly supported by lower claims costs due to the pandemic and partly by investment income boosted by a good momentum in the markets, but even without these factors, If’s performance was strong. This is the result of If’s continuous and determined improvements of operational efficiency and investments in digitalization.

Combined ratio was 81.5 per cent. Without the approximately 3 per cent positive COVID-19 effect, it would have been 84.5 per cent, which is an excellent performance in the quite wintry first quarter.

If’s premiums grew 2.6 per cent in local currency in the first quarter. What were the drivers behind that?

The main driver was the strong 3.9 per cent growth in BA Private, If’s largest business area. One of the factors supporting the growth in BA Private was the increased new cars sales, in which If is the leading insurer supported by its strong partnership network.

In addition, the first quarter is important for corporate segments since large part of insurance contracts are renewed on the first day of the year. The premium growth within corporate segments was characterized by stable retention and selective rate actions.

If_GWP.jpg

Picture from Supplementary Financial Information presentation

Why did the premium decrease by 3.0 per cent in Finland?

In Finland, the coronavirus pandemic had a negative effect on volume of workers’ compensation insurances as wages decreased due to lower economic activity.

What were the drivers behind Mandatum’s strong results?

Of Sampo’s businesses, the development in the equity and fixed income markets affect Mandatum the most, since vast majority of its results comes from investment income. In addition to the general market development, Mandatum’s results were supported by a quite large capital gain related to the takeover bid for Tikkurila.

Mandatum’s profit before taxes was very strong, EUR 76 million, despite the fact that the profit included a negative impact of EUR 31 million from lowering the discount rate for 2024 to 1.5 per cent.

Mandatum Life’s unit-linked technical reserves were supported by the good momentum in the markets and increased to a new record of EUR 9.24 billion.

Mandatum_technical_reserves.jpg

Picture from Supplementary Financial Information presentation

How did Hastings first full quarter as a part of Sampo Group go?

Hastings reported strong results in a somewhat challenging market environment. In the UK, the coronavirus pandemic pushed the claims frequency down, but at the same time, average premiums decreased, and price competition increased.

Hastings has taken a disciplined approach and did not participate the aggressive price competition, keeping its number of live customer policies and market share stable at year-end 2020 level. Hastings’ profit before taxes amounted to EUR 46 million, including EUR 10 million charge for amortization of non-operational intangibles, which will continue for the next seven years.

Hastings operating ratio was very strong, 75.1 per cent. The ratio includes a 3.4 percentage points benefit from acquisition accounting across revenue and operating expenses for deferred acquisition costs and other fair value adjustments that will continue until the end of 2021.

Hastings_operating_ratio.jpg

Picture from Supplementary Financial Information presentation

How did Sampo’s solvency and financial leverage develop in the first quarter?

Sampo Group’s Solvency II ratio was strong, 189 per cent at the end of March, well in line with the target range of 170 – 190 per cent for 2021 – 2023. Financial leverage was 28.0 per cent, in line with the target level of below 30 per cent for 2021 – 2023. 

Sampo’s lock-up period for Nordea shares ends on 9 May 2021. When will Sampo continue to reduce its ownership in Nordea?

As we communicated at the Capital Markets Day in February, Sampo will materially reduce its ownership in Nordea over the next 18 months (approximately over 15 months at the time of writing this). The schedule of next actions depends on many things, of which the share price of Nordea is naturally the most important one.

At the Capital Markets Day, Sampo estimated that after exiting Nordea and other financial investments it would have approximately EUR 5-6 per share excess capital. Is this estimate still valid?

That estimate presented at the Capital Markets Day was round and based on figures at the end of 2020. The biggest factor is the share price of Nordea, which was EUR 6.67 per share at the end of 2020. Favorable market development will naturally increase the amount of potential excess capital.

Capital_allocation.jpg

Picture from Capital Markets Day presentation (24 February 2021)

Sustainalytics, an ESG-focused research company, upgraded Sampo to Low Risk. What does this mean?

The rating change made by Sustainalytics proves that our continuous and determined work on corporate responsibility bears fruit. Sampo is now in the top five of the 71 insurers rated by Sustainalytics and the number one with a market cap of EUR 20 – 40 billion. We are pleased with this achievement but there is still room to further improve and the work on that field continues.

ESG.jpg

Picture from Supplementary Financial Information presentation

 

What would you like to ask Sampo’s managers?

Sampo will hold a Q&A session in connection with its Annual General Meeting on 19.5. In the Q&A session, the Group CEO Torbjörn Magnusson and Group CFO Knut Arne Alsaker will answer shareholders questions. Questions can be presented during the live event, but we would like to receive those in advance as well.

Questions can be sent by email to ir@sampo.fi.

 

Mirko Hurmerinta

IR and Communications Specialist, Sampo plc

16 March 2021

Why is Bitcoin not a suitable investment for Sampo?

Bitcoin is a so-called cryptocurrency that has attracted growing enthusiasm since its creation in 2008. More and more parties have recently begun to recommend its suitability as a small part of a well-diversified investment portfolio. On these grounds alone, Bitcoin could be expected to have potential for further positive value development if its demand indeed increases. So why doesn't Bitcoin fit into Sampo's investment portfolio?

Valuation of investments

When estimating the expected return of an asset, it is useful to distinguish the cash flows of the asset from the factors that affect the valuation of these cash flows. The basic premise for any investment is that its value is built on the cash flows it generates over its life cycle. An investor can also get value from an investment asset if she manages to sell this asset to another party at a higher price than what she has originally paid for it. However, this may not be the result of an increase in the expected cash flows generated by the asset itself. In addition to the cash flows generated by the asset, its market valuation is affected by the factors by which these cash flows, which will only be received in the future, are converted to present value. These factors include, besides the general level of interest rates, also risk premia, which are added on top of risk-free interest rates and depend on the level of systematic risk in the asset itself. Risk premia are driven by the general market sentiment together with structural market factors, ultimately by supply and demand.

For Bitcoin, none of this seems very relevant, as it does not in itself generate any kind of cash flows, unlike equities, bonds, and real estate in the form of dividends, interest payments and rental income. Bitcoin is therefore not a cash flow -generating asset, and hence over time, Bitcoin itself can’t be expected to generate any sort of returns. Indeed, the prospective return expectations placed on it are based on speculation, reckoning that others are looking to buy more of it and its market price would thus rise, allowing it to be sold to another eager buyer.

Items without cashflows

Of course, there are items in the world that have value even if they do not generate cash flows. Factors of production, such as natural resources, infrastructure and production equipment, can be seen as part of the actual investment project, which, of course, is intended to generate cash flows for the investor. But items that do not generate cash flows and still have value for the buyer include especially items such as services and consumer goods. Their value is based on the utility gained from consumption - they are not bought for the purpose of generating returns on investment. If consumer goods that have been purchased are not consumed, their value can be expected to decrease as the item in question decays over time.

But there are also non-cash-generating imperishable items that are not intended for consumption and at the same time have an indisputable and lasting value, such as e.g. art, gold and cash. It is obvious that their value isn’t based solely on speculation. However, these items can’t be expected to generate a real rate of interest, i.e. a return in excess of inflation, as they do not generate any cash flows that would represent a return. The return on cash doesn’t match even the rate of inflation, as inflation erodes at its value by definition. But the real value of art and gold as imperishable objects could be expected to be preserved as long as these objects have a permanent use case and thus a permanent use value.

Bitcoin cannot be consumed or used as a factor of production or to make anything concrete like jewelry, for example. It is also difficult to see that Bitcoin would produce a similar kind of enjoyment for its buyer as art does. How could a value higher than zero be justified for Bitcoin at all?

Bitcoin as a medium of exchange 

A natural comparison for cryptocurrencies is in fact funds on a bank account, or money, in the euro area the euro. Bitcoin does not have the status of a legal tender, meaning that no one can oblige another party, such as a counterparty or a creditor, to receive a payment in Bitcoin. However, it acts as a medium of exchange and as means of payment in some online stores, online services and physical stores, and of course, between those who are willing to make and receive a payment in Bitcoin.

Money is a liability to the central bank and owed to its holder. Money is a liability on the central bank's balance sheet and matched by assets in the form of securities investments and gold. At the time of the gold standard, the central bank promised to exchange banknotes for gold at a fixed exchange rate. Today, the gold standard has been abandoned and the objective of the central bank is simply to maintain the purchasing power of money, or its real value, instead of exchanging money for gold, in other words, to keep inflation low. 1)

The central bank has the means to achieve this as it is able to control prevailing market interest rates and to influence commercial bank lending. Indeed, the central banks in developed countries have been successful in stabilizing the value of money in recent decades, with inflation remaining low, in the view of some, too low. 2)

There are no guarantees or commitments by anyone for Bitcoin to retain its value, as there are for money. Bitcoin is nobody’s liability to anyone, and no party is committed to guaranteeing the stability of its value. Indeed, the value of Bitcoin has been highly volatile over its life cycle. This makes it a poor medium of exchange - it is difficult for a buyer or seller to know in advance how many Bitcoins (or parts of it, satoshi) are needed to pay for the object in the transaction.

Bitcoin’s suitability for Sampo as an investment 

Recently, also many incumbents in the financial markets have begun to view Bitcoin as an inflation-hedge 3) and plausible investment asset. Such perspectives can easily be seen to reflect a general mistrust in the monetary economy and in the monetary policy pursued by central banks during recent years. In addition, Bitcoin is surrounded by a hype regarding its blockchain 4) technology, which, however, cannot be justified in terms of the non-existent cash flows it generates or its poor characteristics as a medium of exchange. Unless the anonymity offered by Bitcoin is seen as providing value for illegal use cases. From this perspective, however, Bitcoin cannot be recommended to be a part of a responsible investor’s portfolio. In addition, the amount of energy consumed for “mining” Bitcoin currently exceeds, for example, the entire energy consumption of Finland, meaning that it is not suitable as part of responsible investments from this point of view either.

According to the prudent person principle laid down in Solvency II and in the Insurance Companies Act in Finland, insurance companies may only invest in assets the risks of which they can identify, measure, monitor, manage, control and report properly. The company must take these risks into account when assessing its overall solvency needs. An insurance company is required to invest its assets in a way which ensures their security, convertibility to cash, returns, and accessibility. Bitcoin does not meet these requirements applicable to Sampo as the ultimate parent company of an insurance group.

 

1) The value of so-called fiat (Latin “let it be done”) money is not based on its convertibility to gold, for example, but on the credibility of the monetary policy pursued by the central bank in preserving the real value of money.

2) In recent years, it has often been read that central banks are pumping more and more money into the markets. However, central banks do not give away money to anyone, but exchange their own liabilities for the liabilities of others - either by buying government and corporate bonds or by lending to banks against securities collateral. In addition, central bank refinancing operations do not affect the real economy or inflation without the efforts of commercial banks to expand their lending. When a central bank buys securities and thus increases the supply of money, only the amount of commercial bank deposits held in the central bank (so-called central bank money) increases. In other words, from the point of view of consumers and businesses, the supply of money will not increase at all as a result of central bank measures alone. Indeed, central bank money is a closed system, and money can’t leak out of it to consumers and businesses without commercial banks increasing the amount of loans they grant to consumers and businesses. The low level of inflation in the 2010s has been partly explained by the moderate growth of commercial bank lending. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the amount of loans raised by businesses and consumers has started to grow faster. During recent months, this has raised concerns of a possible acceleration in inflation. Manufacturing capacity in the pandemic-weakened economy has been lost, and some fear it will be incapable of responding to a surge in demand following the end of the lockdown measures imposed by the authorities, which would lead to an increase in the level of prices.

3) see e.g. Bitcoin – At the Tipping Point, Citi, March 2021

4) a blockchain is a decentralized, and oftentimes public, digital ledger

Kai Sotamaa

Chief Risk Officer, Sampo plc

11 February 2021

Results for 2020 – Q&A

Despite the challenging environment, the year 2020 was good for Sampo. If, the Group’s largest business area, reported its best-ever technical result. In addition, investment income was supported by the fast recovery in the capital markets after the turmoil last spring.

The Group’s profit before taxes decreased to EUR 380 million from EUR 1,541 million a year ago. The reported result was negatively affected by the sale loss of EUR 262 million related to the Nordea sale in Q4 and the impairment of EUR 899 million for the rest of the Nordea shares held. Without these extraordinary items, the profit before taxes would be almost at the same level as a year ago.

Read more about Sampo’s January-December 2020 results

Key figures, EURm 2020 2019 Change,
%
10-12/
2020
10-12/
2019
Change,
%
Profit before taxes* 380 1,541 -75 -675 468 -
If 901 884 2 285 228 25
Topdanmark 167 238 -30 82 58 41
Hastings -16 - - -16 - -
Associates* -722 298 - -1,030 143 -
Mandatum 154 280 -45 54 68 -20
Holding (excl. associates) -103 -4 - -50 -29 69
Profit for the period 112 1,237 -91 -769 389 -
      Change     Change
Earnings per share, EUR 0.07 2.04 -1.97 -1.44 0.66 -2.10
EPS (without eo. items) EUR 2.16 2.31 -0.15 - - -
EPS (based on OCI), EUR 0.65 2.63 -1.88 -0.47 1.19 -1.63
NAV per share, EUR 19.82 20.71 -0.89 - - -
Average number of staff, FTE 13,227 9,813 3,414 - - -
Group solvency ratio, % 176 174 2 - - -
RoE, % 3.1 12.0 -8.9 - - -

*The reported loss related to the sale of Nordea shares in November 2020 and the impairment of Nordea holding made in the consolidated Group accounts 2020, together EUR 1,161 million is included in the 2020 figure. The comparison figure includes a valuation loss of EUR 155 million related to Nordea shares.

The figures have not been audited.


Why did Sampo make an impairment to Nordea’s book value?

Nordea is Sampo’s associated company and its book value is based on equity accounting. To simplify, Sampo’s share of Nordea’s quarterly profits increase the book value and paid dividends decrease it. In addition, the book value is affected by certain, more technical items, such as amortization of goodwill and share of Nordea’s other comprehensive income.

The book value is tested regularly and compared to the recoverable amount for the investment by using a discounted cash flow model, where the cash flows are based on the public information on Nordea. Based on the latest test, the recoverable amount was EUR 7.50 per share.

Nordea’s market price has for a protracted period been under the Group’s book value for the Nordea shares. Thus, the Board decided, after applying management judgement, to impair the book value of Nordea to EUR 7.50 per share from EUR 8.90 per share at the end of December 2020. 

As a result, the impairment had a negative effect of EUR 899 million for the Q4 result.

Nordea.jpg

Picture from Supplementary financial information presentation


Does the impairment loss affect Sampo’s solvency and NAV calculations?

No, it does not, since both calculations are based on the market value of Nordea. The impairment loss does not affect Sampo’s liquidity position either, and therefore nor on ability to pay dividend.


Does the impairment loss affect Sampo’s plans for Nordea?

No, it does not. Even though the regulatory and macroeconomic uncertainty weight Nordea’s share price, the company has continued its positive performance. Sampo continues to see upside in Nordea’s 2022 plans but the group will, over time, explore options to reduce its exposure to banking.


How did the coronavirus pandemic affect Sampo’s business in the fourth quarter?

Vast majority of Sampo plc’s and the subsidiary’s personnel has continued to work from home. Despite of this, the Group companies have succeeded to serve their customers normally.

Various restrictions and the decrease in general activity continued to lower the claims frequency, particularly within motor insurance, which supported the technical results. The effect of the pandemic on If’s combined ratio was approximately 4 percentage points positive in the fourth quarter and approximately 3 percentage points for the full year.

Partly due to the positive effects related to the pandemic, If reported its best-ever combined ratio. The combined ratio was 81.3 per cent in the fourth quarter and 82.1 per cent for the full-year 2020.


How did the technical profitability develop by business areas and markets?

Geographically, If’s combined ratio improved in all markets, except in Finland, where the discount rate was lowered in the third quarter. The development was strongest in Sweden, If’s largest market, where the combined ratio improved to 72.3 per cent (76.5) in 2020.

If_keyfig1.jpg

Picture from Supplementary financial information presentation

By business areas, the combined ratio increased only in BA Industrial due to higher large claims than expected in 2020. In the largest business area, BA Private, the technical development was excellent and supported by fewer claims due to the pandemic.

If_keyfig2.jpg

Picture from Supplementary financial information presentation


How did If’s premiums develop in 2020?

If reported strong premium growth in 2020, although the growth slowed down a bit towards the end of the year. In local currency, premiums grew by 4.7 per cent in 2020. Geographically, the growth was strongest in Denmark, where If focuses more on larger corporate customers.

If_GWP.jpg

Picture from Supplementary financial information presentation

Customer retention continued to be high and stable across all business areas. In the largest business area, BA Private, the customer base increased for the third year in a row and was approximately 3,142,000 at the end of 2020.


How did the landslide in Gjerdrum, Norway at the end of the year affect If’s results?

The tragic landslide in Norway was classified as a natural peril and the damages will be covered by the national Natural Perils Pool, whose costs will be shared among the P&C insurers operating in Norway in proportion to their market shares. If’s claims related to the landslide were EUR 18 million in the fourth quarter.


How has the continued good momentum in the capital markets impacted the Group’s investment income?

Both If and Mandatum Life have reported good investment returns after the market turmoil last spring. Especially, the fourth quarter was strong. However, the full-year figures were still impacted by the EUR 191 impairments booked in January-March (If EUR 94 million, Mandatum Life EUR 61 million and Sampo plc 36 million).

In the fourth quarter, If’s net investment income was EUR 76 million (71). Mandatum Life, which has clearly higher equity exposure than If, reported EUR 108 million (78) net investment income excluding income on unit-linked contracts. When looking at investment income, it is good to note that only realized profits are included in it. Changes in market values, on the other hand, are included in the Group’s comprehensive total income.

The good momentum in the capital markets also supported Mandatum Life’s unit-linked technical reserves, which were at all-time high level of EUR 8.8 billion (8.1) at the end of 2020. With-profit reserves linked to higher guarantees (3.5% and 4.5%) continued to shrink and decreased by EUR 268 million to EUR 1.9 billion.


Why did Mandatum Life’s profit before taxes decrease in the fourth quarter despite the strong investment returns?

Mandatum Life has further strengthened its technical provision in response to the continued period of low interest rates. In the final quarter, Mandatum Life lowered its discount rate to 0.25 per cent for the years 2022 and 2023. This had a negative impact of EUR 77 million on the profit.


How did Hastings’ last quarter go?

Hastings has been consolidated as a subsidiary of Sampo since mid-November. Thus, only the figures for the last 6 weeks are included in the Group’s income statement. In addition, these figures include a group of extraordinary items related to the Hastings acquisition and the delisting process. Therefore, the reported figures do not give an accurate picture of Hastings’ operational performance.

In general, the full-year 2020 and the fourth quarter were good for Hastings despite the challenging environment and the company’s customer base continued to grow steadily. Hastings’ business will be presented in more detail at Sampo’s Capital Markets Day on 24 February 2021.


Nordea has, in line with ECB’s recommendations, postponed its dividends. Is the Board’s dividend proposal of EUR 1.70 per share on a solid base?

Yes, it is, since the dividend is primarily funded by internal dividends from insurance operations.

If paid a dividend of approximately EUR 600 million in the fourth quarter to Sampo and Mandatum is expected to pay EUR 200 and Topdanmark EUR 113 million in spring. These internal dividends exceed EUR 1.6 per Sampo share. In addition, after the Nordea share sale in November, Sampo’s liquidity position is strong.

Osinko.jpg

Picture from Supplementary financial information presentation

The dividend proposal is 79 per cent of the Group’s net profit excluding extraordinary items related to Nordea (EUR 2.16 per share) and therefore in line with Sampo’s dividend policy (at least 70 per cent of the Group’s net profit excluding extraordinary items).


Investment company Elliott has publicly expressed its views on Sampo’s strategy. How would you comment on these views?

Sampo’s strategy is on the agenda at the Capital Markets Day on 24 February 2021.

We appreciate investors providing clear and forthright feedback. Elliott happens to be an investor that also shares this feedback publicly.

 

Mirko Hurmerinta

IR and Communications Specialist, Sampo plc