Group says EBITDA was healthy at £578.2m

The holding company of AA Insurance and over-50s broker Saga has suffered a loss of £529m in the year to January 2009 because of large interest payments on debt.

The group – AA road assistance, Saga, AA Insurance and other firms – recorded a profit of £183.5m, but that was wiped out by the £705m interest payment on its £6.4bn debt. Pension liabilities rose from a deficit of £24.4m to £193.5m.

A company spokesman said that if items such as amortisation costs and debt interest were excluded – costs that do not have to be paid until the company realises its value through a flotation or sale – cashflow was healthy.

He said the pension liabilities had worsened because of the deteriorating investment market, but expected it to pick up this year. Staff had also agreed this year to make extra pension contributions.

Saga contributed £523m of its turnover from insurance operations to the £1.65bn group turnover. Earnings before interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation was £578.2m, an increase of 5.2% from the previous year.