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Baloise makes record loss

Baloise says its finances are stable

(Keystone)

Leading Swiss insurer Baloise has reported a loss of SFr634 million ($461 million) for 2002 - the worst result in the company's history.

It blamed weak markets for the loss, which came in at the high end of expectations.

In 2001 the top five insurer made a net profit of SFr404 million.

Baloise had warned in January that it would make a loss of SFr550-650 million due to the global financial crisis, foreign exchange losses and charges for impaired investment assets.

The company was badly hit in 2002 by high claims related to the floods, which affected much of Europe.

Announcing the loss, Baloise said it would slash its share dividend by more than 80 per cent from SFr2.40 per share in 2001 to SFr0.40.

The company said its finances remained in good shape and there were no plans for a capital increase.

The Baloise Group, which includes the Solothurn-based Baloise Bank, has traditionally focused on the domestic and neighbouring European markets.

It said it would in future concentrate on improving operating efficiency and profitability in its life insurance branch, and on restructuring parts of its portfolio in Belgium and Germany.

The problems experienced by Baloise over the past year reflected the situation in the industry as a whole. Two of the company's biggest rivals, Zurich Financial, and Swiss Life, were forced to seek capital increases to shore up their equity bases.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Baloise - one of Switzerland's top five insurers - has announced a 2002 loss of SFr634 million ($461 million).
It was the company's worst ever result and it followed a net profit in 2001 of SFr404 million.
Baloise had warned in January that it would make a loss of SFr550-650 million.
The company has been hit by high claims, foreign exchange losses and charges for impaired investment assets.

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