Italian insurance group Generali reported on Thursday a leap in net profits for 2013 and said it expected to do better this year. Net profit last year amounted to 1.915 billion euros ($2.7 billion), the highest figure for six years, from a profit of 94 million euros in 2012. Operating profit rose by 5.3 percent to 4.2 billion euros. The board recommended that the dividend payout to shareholders should be more than doubled to 0.45 euros per share from 0.20 euros for 2012. The company put into effect in 2013 the first year of a three-year programme to raise profitability. Chief executive Mario Greco said that 2013 had been "a fudamental year for the turnaround of Generali and the results confirm that we are on track, or ahead, of the targets in our strategic plan." This had been the first year for many years in which the results reflected only business operations and had not been affected by exceptional items, he said. During the year, the company had sold assets worth 2.4 billion euros and had spent 1.5 billion euros on acquiring interests in strategic sectors, Greco said. The return on shareholders' funds, a key measure of efficiency, rose by 0.8 percentage points to 12.1 percent, marking big progress towards the target of more than 13.0 percent in 2015. Generali said that this year it expected operating and net profits to rise further in line with the strategic plan, even though the economic climate remained uncertain.