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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Daniel O'Boyle

UK economy defying the ‘moaners and groaners’, Legal & General chief says

Legal & General boss Sir Nigel Wilson decried the levels of “moaning and groaning” about a UK economy that has proved more resilient than expected over the past 18 months.

He told the Standard there were still plenty of reasons for optimism, despite higher interest rates slowing growth. The economy has outperformed most of last year’s forecasts, with organisations like the Bank of England and IMF no longer expecting a recession this year.

“The economy has been much more resilient than anybody had expected 18 months ago, and yet people are still moaning and groaning,” he said.

“London’s doing well. The creative industries, we don’t make enough of a fuss about but we’re doing great, we’re stealing market share from Hollywood. Tech’s doing well.”

The optimism comes in contrast to Wilson’s comments in March, when he told the Standard the UK is a “low wage, low growth” economy.

But he said more  still needs to be done to encourage investment in the City. Wilson praised the Chancellor’s recent announcement at Mansion House to encourage more pension funds to invest in UK growth companies, but said larger-scale industrial strategy moves like the US Inflation Reduction Act should be replicated in the UK.

“The direction of travel we’re hugely supportive of,” he said. “Is it enough? No. We need to look around the world at what’s working and try to recreate that in the UK.

“We need to be encouraging more foreign direct investment as well.”

It comes as the financial services giant reported its operating profits slipped by 1% to £941 million. Profit before tax was more than halved to £324 million, though  this was mostly due to a lower market value of its bond portfolio.

Although the profit figures were ahead of City expectations, shares fell by 9.6p, or 4.2%, to 223.5p.

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: “Legal & General remains an investment behemoth which is very much a long-term prospect, similar to the investments in which it deals.”

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