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Migdal Insurance (TASE: MGDL)  today became the first of Israel's major insurance companies to publish its results for the year 2006, and fine results they were.

The insurer, the biggest in Israel, said profits crept up to NIS 570 million, an increase of just 2.5% against 2005, when it netted NIS 556 million.

Its profit from the insurance business grew by a modest 4% to NIS 851 million, Migdal said.

What did grow strongly, by 25%, was assets under its management. These reached NIS 75 billion at the end of the year, up from NIS 60 billion at year-end 2005.

Migdal stock

Migdal is about to complete the acquisition of the Kahal training fund, which will increase its assets under management to NIS 85 billion.

Out of that, Migdal Capital Markets controls NIS 13.7 billion (as of the end of 2006), compared with NIS 5.4 billion at the end of 2005.

The reason for the surge in assets under management is simply that during 2006, as the banks were forced to divest their holdings in provident and mutual funds, Migdal snapped up the Afikim and Dikla mutual fund management companies. Also, its own assets under management increased sharply, by three billion shekels to NIS 8.4 billion.

Migdal Capital Markets' own net profit shot up in 2006 to NIS 31 million, from just NIS 5 million in 2005.

The Migdal group's consolidated shareholders equity totaled NIS 2.8 billion at year-end 2006. Real return on equity came to 21%.

This morning Migdal also declared a hefty NIS 330 million dividend to shareholders, based on its 2006 results. It already paid shareholders NIS 70 million in 2006.