Suncorp scraps failed marketplace strategy

Suncorp is scrapping its so-called marketplace strategy to refocus on banking and insurance, admitting its former chief executive’s plan had confused customers.

Announcing an 83.5 per cent fall in full-year profit, Suncorp acting CEO Steve Johnston said the company had been too ambitious and failed to explain what it had been trying to achieve.

“Clearly there are areas where we haven’t got it 100 per cent right or we haven’t clearly explained our intent,” Mr Johnston said on Wednesday.

“The more aspirational elements of the marketplace component of our strategy and the associated third-party revenues that were assumed to flow from those activities were too ambitious relative to where our business is at and the funds that we have available to invest.”

Customer marketplace boss Pip Marlow will quit at the end of August, with 15-year company veteran Lisa Harrison leading a new customer and digital unit.

Suncorp will align its Australian contact centres, stores and intermediary distribution teams with its banking and insurance operations.

Suncorp recorded an $899 million loss on the sale of its life insurance business to Japan’s TAL Dai-ichi Life, a one-off hit entirely responsible for the big fall in profit.

Stripping out one-off items, full-year cash profit rose 1.1 per cent to $1.115 billion, with revenue from continuing operations rising 9.65 per cent to $15.6 billion.

The company confirmed it would hand another $506 million back to shareholders from the sale of the life unit.

Suncorp, which has already distributed $104 million from the sale in the form of an 8.0 cent special dividend, announced an additional 39 cents per share capital return for October 24 and a related share consolidation.

The total return to shareholders from the sale of the Australian Life Insurance business will come to $610 million.

Suncorp shares rose 3.7 per cent to $13.18 in the first 14 minutes of trade.

AAP

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