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LONDON (Reuters) - Insurer Aviva plans to increase international life sales by an average of at least 10 percent a year over the next five years, focusing on organic growth, with new business profits climbing at least as quickly.

Britain's largest insurer also aims to boost its key international life business with new joint ventures and distribution deals, it said on Thursday, ahead of a series of presentations to analysts and investors.

"The growth of our life portfolio will come from building on our strong businesses in continental Europe, our growing business in North America and from the excellent positions we are taking in the developing Asian markets," Group Executive Director Philip Scott said.

International life accounted for over 40 percent of Aviva's sales in 2005, when its overall business outside Britain accounted for more than half the year's operating profit.

Aviva's (AV.L: Quote, Profile, Research) shares opened marginally higher after the statement, but shed the gains to trading 0.47 percent lower at 738-1/2 pence at 8:34 a.m., in line with a fall in the DJ Stoxx index of insurance stocks.

"It's not very far away from what we had in our forecasts, but it's good to see them putting a target out," analyst Trevor Moss at Man Securities said. Continued...

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