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Italian insurer Generali has promised faster delivery of its planned €200m of cost savings.

The company saw off bid interest from Intesa Sanpaolo, one of Italy’s biggest banks, last month. If Intesa’s interested had persisted, Generali was gearing up for a big increase in its savings target as part of its defence.

There was no increase announced alongside Generali’s full year results on Thursday but the company said that it would reach its target in 2018 rather than 2019. It added that €70m of the savings had already been delivered.

Generali said that its operating profits, which rose 1 per cent to €4.83bn, were at the highest level ever although its return on equity fell slightly.

The company also announced an 11 per cent increase in the dividend to €0.8 per share.

Philippe Donnet, chief executive, said:

I am encouraged by Generali’s progress in the last year. We are already seeing the early results of our “Simpler, Smarter. Faster” Plan, announced in November 2016. We will build further on these achievements and we have the best possible team to accelerate the execution of our current strategy.

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