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Voya lifts profit target, announces $750 million buyback

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(Bloomberg) — Voya Financial Inc., the U.S. insurer and investment manager that was spun off from ING Groep NV, announced a $750 million share buyback and increased its profitability target.

Chief Executive Officer Rodney Martin plans a 2018 operating return on equity of 13.5 percent to 14.5 percent, the New York-based company said Tuesday in a statement. The previous range for that year was 13 percent to 14 percent, and ROE was about 12.1 percent in 2014.

Voya is focusing on growth in investment-management and some retirement operations that can be less capital-intensive than annuities or life insurance. Last month, the company announced the hiring of Charles Nelson as CEO of the retirement unit. Martin has committed to as much as $350 million in investments to boost profitability, and Voya has said it will discuss those plans further at an investor day presentation Tuesday.

“The investments, which will be made through 2018, are intended to drive adjusted ROE improvement, reduce operating costs, simplify the company’s operating model, increase speed to market, and improve the customer experience,” Voya said in the statement.

Voya climbed 1.2 percent to $45.90 at 1:01 p.m. in New York trading. The company has advanced about 8.3 percent this year.