Standard Life claimed yesterday to have boosted its operating profits by £100 million this year with a £6.7 billion re-insurance deal.
It passed more than half its liabilities to pay annuities for personal pensions to Canada Life.
Standard's depressed shares bounced up to 212p on the news, but later settled back to 209.25p for a gain of 2p on the day, still well short of the 230p at which the shares came to the stock market in July 2006.
The deal is thought to be the biggest of its kind in the UK. Standard Life said it enabled it to off-load half the risk that its annuity policyholders may live longer than expected.
Standard Life has assets, such as bonds and cash, matched to its present liabilities, but said this deal transfers more risk than assets to Canada Life International.
This has provided a one-off cash boost, which Standard Life says it intends to use to "take advantage of the profitable opportunities available to us".
Standard Life has been under pressure since losing to Pearl Assurance in the takeover fight for Resolution and a 20 per cent drop in UK sales in the fourth quarter of last year - although the total over the full year was 15 per cent up at £13.17 billion.