- Pensions provider Just Group scrapped its dividend for the year and laid out plans to raise funds to shore up its balance sheet after reporting operating profits rose by nearly a third. The company said it would raise about £400m in a combined equity and debt issue to strengthen its balance sheet amid changes to capital requirement rules. The equity offering would see the company placed about 9.99% of its existing shares. For the 12 months to 31 December, underlying operating earnings rose 31% to £315m and and new business operating profit rose 44% to £243.7m from a year earlier.

Retirement Income sales grew 15% for the year, and defined benefit de-risking sales were up 32%. The company reported a solvency coverage ratio of 144%, while the economic capital ratio increased to 256% from 238% a year earlier. The company said given the proposed capital actions 'we are announcing today, we do not consider it appropriate to pay a dividend for 2018. Our current expectation is to recommence dividend payments during the 2019 financial year at a rebased level.' '2018 has been a year of contrasts. We have achieved significant new business profit growth, strong margins and higher sales despite significant uncertainty during the Prudential Regulation Authority's ("PRA") consultation into equity release mortgages,' said Rodney Cook, Group Chief Executive.

At 8:10am: [LON:JUST] Just Group Plc share price was -17.27p at 80.23p

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