November 7, 2018 / 9:36 AM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Nordic holding firm Sampo lifts internal dividend view, shares rise

(Recasts with dividend outlook)

HELSINKI, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Nordic financial holding company Sampo said on Wednesday it would take bigger internal dividends from its insurance businesses, paving the way for a higher payout for its own shareholders.

The top shareholder of Nordea Bank said its life insurance unit Mandatum paid it an additional dividend of 150 million euros while If, its property and casualty insurance business, would pay it 7 billion Swedish crowns ($777 million) this year, up from 6 billion crowns in 2017.

The total cash flow from which Sampo traditionally pays out its dividends will be about 2.9 euros per share for 2018, Inderes Equity Research analyst Sauli Vilen calculated.

“They have surprised the market in the past few years. This cash flow allows them to do it again,” Vilen said.

Analysts’ average forecast for Sampo’s next dividend was 2.77 euros per share prior to Wednesday’s statement.

For 2017, Sampo paid 2.60 euros per share.

Shares in the company were up 1.54 percent at 0933 GMT.

Sampo has increased its payouts every year since 2008 and has indicated that it aims to keep its dividends growing.

In addition to If, which is the largest Nordic property and casualty insurer, and a 21 percent stake in Nordea, Sampo’s holdings include close to half of Danish insurer Topdanmark .

Sampo’s third-quarter pretax profit fell 59 percent from a year ago to 490 million euros ($562 million) as expected due to a smaller profit contribution from Nordea.

Sampo reported a strong underlying result at its property and casualty insurance business and upgraded its view of the unit’s full-year combined ratio to 85-87 percent from a previous forecast of 86-88 percent. A lower ratio indicates better profitability.

($1 = 0.8724 euros)

($1 = 9.0083 Swedish crowns)

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; editing by Terje Solsvik and Jason Neely

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