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Great-West's European arm boosts first-quarter profit

Great-West Lifeco Inc. CEO Allen Loney speaks to shareholders and policyholders in Winnipeg in 2010. The insurer reported first-quarter earnings on Thursday.

FRED GREENSLADE/FRED GREENSLADE/REUTERS

The European arm of Great-West Lifeco Inc. showed a dramatic recovery in its profitability during the first quarter but that improvement was largely offset by declines in North America.

Overall net income available to common shareholders was $451-million or 47.5 cents per share in the first three months of 2012, up from $415-million or 43.8 cents per share in the year-earlier quarter, Great-West reported.

Revenue was $6.5-billion, up from $6.25-billion a year earlier. Revenue from insurance premiums was $4.5-billion, up from $4.3-billion while investment income, fees and revenue from other sources were relatively flat.

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Europe accounted for $141-million of the total profit, up from $86-million a year earlier when the company established provisions for earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand.

Canada contributed more than half of the quarter's total profit, but it fell to $242-million from $245-million in the first quarter of 2011.

Great-West's U.S. operations were significantly less profitable, with net income attributable to common shareholders falling 15 per cent to $75-million from $88-million.

The company attributed the decrease at its U.S. operations to abnormally high mortality claims.

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