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UPDATE - Partnership Assurance considering strategy shift after pensions reforms

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--adds Just Retirement update--

Partnership Assurance (LON:PA.) has admitted the pensions reforms unveiled in last month's Budget could see it change its business model and strategy.

The group, which provides annuities to retirees, said it is as yet unsure of the medium and long-term implications of George Osborne’s plan to scrap compulsory annuities, but confessed sales of its individual retirement annuities are likely to fall. 

However, it insisted annuities will continue to be an important part of retirement planning for a large number of people in the UK who want financial security throughout their retirement.

The group suggested its products will still prove attractive to those with “health and lifestyle conditions”.

It follows a warning from house broker Panmure Gordon, which admitted last month it now has “very little feel” for the business model following the drastic changes.

Separately, another annuity specialist, Just Retirement (LON:JRG), also warned that the changes announced in the Budget had meant a material effect on sales of individual annuities, forcing it to scrap its previous target of 7% sales growth.

Elsewhere, Just Retirement said its Underwritten Defined Benefits De-risking Division has completed contracts on a significant transaction, which may amount to £36.5mln of single premium income for the group.

Partnership Assurance floated at 385p in June last year, but its shares are now worth just 133p. 

Partnership said it will be working with the industry, regulators, politicians and key shareholders as part of the debate on pensions in the coming months.

The company said it remains financially strong and its maiden dividend of 3p is set for approval at its annual general meeting. 

However, it warned the dividend could be under threat as the impact of the proposed changes becomes clearer.

Chairman Chris Gibson-Smith said: “The changes may lead to the company reviewing its strategy and business model in due course, but at this stage it is not possible to say with any certainty what the medium term and long term impact will be.

“Whatever the outcome of the consultation, we are confident that there will still be a need for Partnership's expertise and our ability to offer retirees the peace of mind and financial security  that they seek.”

He added: “We have transformed the market for underwritten annuities, and so while there are certainly challenges ahead, we firmly believe that Partnership will continue to have an important role to play in helping retirees make the most of their retirement income.”

The shares rose 1.5% today to 134.3p, while Just Retirement was unchanged at 147.6p. 

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