Australian Unity 1H profits double

Australian Unity will increase its focus on its wealth management business as the profitability of its health insurance business comes under pressure from rising costs.

Figures released by the company revealed it almost doubled its profit for the first six months of the financial year, compared with the previous corresponding period (pcp), to $12 million from $6.1 million, in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Australian Unity managing director, Rohan Mead, said the company's purchase of Premium Wealth Management Services towards the end of the 2014 calendar year had boosted the group's personal financial services arm's funds under advice by 68 per cent to $5.9 billion at 31 December 2014, up from $3.5 billion at the end of June.

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"The addition of Premium will increase Australian Unity's financial advice capability and enhance our strong relationships with accountants and their clients," he said.

"Further, it will better position the business to take advantage of the opportunities that are emerging from the significant regulatory and environmental changes impacting the financial advice sector."

The Group reported revenue and other income of $648 million for the six months to 31 December 2014, up 10.5 per cent on the pcp, its operating earnings shot up 59 per cent in the same period to $14.9 million.

Mead said all areas of the business had recorded solid revenue growth over in the first half of the financial year, with the advice sector reporting the biggest increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

"The operating earnings progress for the half-year is very pleasing as it is spread across the business," Mead said.

"Compared to the pcp, each of our business units recorded an increase in adjusted EBITDA, ranging from six per cent in the investments business to more than 50 per cent in the personal financial services business."

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