(Updates with details from earnings report, CEO quote)
AMSTERDAM, Feb 14 (Reuters) - NN Group, the largest Dutch insurer, on Thursday reported lower-than-expected operating results of 343 million euros ($387 million) for the three months ended Dec. 31.
That was down from 345 million euros a year earlier and short of the 359 million from ongoing operations expected by analysts polled for Reuters.
Lower results in its asset management business overshadowed improvements at its Dutch and Japanese life insurance operations, the company said.
“In general the asset management industry has seen a difficult year,” CEO Lard Friese told reporters on a conference call.
“In the fourth quarter the good news were the net flows (of funds for investment) were flat, which is good progress,” Friese said. The company noted that asset management fees were lower.
The company fell to a fourth quarter net loss of 533 million euros from profit of 700 million reflecting losses on its investment portfolio as well as a 885 million euro writedown and impairment on the value of the goodwill of Delta Lloyd, the insurer it bought for 2.5 billion euros in May 2017.
Friese said Delta Lloyd’s integration is now largely completed.
NN Group said it had ended the year with a little over 2 billion euros in cash and a Solvency II ratio of 230 percent.
The insurer announced a 500 million euro buyback program to commence March 1 and a final dividend of 1.24 euros, meaning a dividend for 2018 of 1.90 euros, up 14 percent from 2017.
$1 = 0.8870 euros Reporting by Toby Sterling; editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Jason Neely