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Bâloise profits plummet as layoffs loom

One of Switzerland's largest insurance groups, Bâloise, saw full-year profits fall by half last year, forcing it to write down millions of francs and slash jobs.

The country's third-biggest non-life insurer reported that profits fell in 2008 to SFr386.7 million ($327 million). Losses from investments in wobbly financial markets created writedowns of SFr925 million.

The blue-chip company said on Wednesday it would cut 230 full-time jobs in Germany, about 13 per cent of the workforce there.

Last year Bâloise reported a record profit of SFr813.8 million.

Despite the downturn during "such a difficult year", the company's chief executive said the insurance business remained healthy and that dividends would not change.

The company said 90.9 cents of every dollar collected from premiums went to pay for claims and expenses, a record low. That's down from 95.1 cents a year ago. Anything less than 100 cents means the company is profitable.

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