Irish Life has announced profits of €96 million for the first half of the year.

The figure represents a six-fold increase in profits for the corresponding period last year.

The half year covered in the results saw the life assurance company separated from its parent Permanent TSB and brought into state ownership.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan purchased the company for €1.3 billion in March with the intention of selling it on when market conditions improve.

The deal came after the planned sale of Irish Life to a Canadian insurer fell through last year due to concerns about the euro zone.

The firm grew its market share in all key market segments in the first half.

It has a market share of 29% in the life and pensions market and over 1 million customers.

Irish Life is the largest private payer of pensions in the country and its market share in fund management is 33%.

Irish Life's group chief executive Kevin Murphy described the results as ''very satisfactory''.

''This performance is a real testament to the benefits of the multi-distribution, multi-product business model we have in Irish Life. It means that when some areas are under pressure, other areas can compensate and that's certainly been the case in the first half of the year,'' he said.

Mr Murphy said the economic environment remains very challenging and he noted that retail sales of investment products in particular were hit by the lower levels of disposable income in the economy.

''This is a very tough market and will remain so for a number of years. But ultimately the economy will stabilise and recover and it is clear that we are very well positioned to benefit from that when it occurs,'' he said.

The Irish Life chief executive also said that the group's ''strategic priority'' was to ensure that the Finance Minister's investment could be fully recouped when the group was returned to the private sector.

''We are very conscious of the support of the Minister and the taxpayer and we are determined to ensure that this can be repaid fully as soon as practicable. We're optimistic that this will be the case,'' he added.

Mr Murphy said he expects that market conditions will allow for a sale of the life assurance business in the next few years.

He said he feels there will be a successful auction of the company once problems in the euro zone settle down, but he would not drawn on what price the taxpayer might get for the sale.