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Business booms at Baloise of Basel

CEO Frank Schnewlin (left) with Martin Strobel, CEO Switzerland Keystone

The Baloise insurance company has reported an "excellent" first-half, with profit soaring by 58 per cent to SFr218 million ($176.5 million).

But the group also said on Wednesday that it expected net losses of about SFr100 million from severe floods in Switzerland and its neighbours at the end of August.

“We are very satisfied with this result. And we are convinced that there will be a marked increase in the full-year profit, too, despite the natural disasters we were confronted with in August,” commented Frank Schnewlin, chief executive of the Baloise Group.

“The result reflects the successful strengthening of Baloise’s earning power, particularly in our markets outside Switzerland,” he added.

The net profit figure beat market expectations. The average forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts was for net profit to rise to SFr184 million from a revised SFr137 million in the same period last year.

Combined ratio

Baloise, which is Switzerland’s fourth largest insurance company, said in a statement that its combined ratio – a key non-life insurance profitability indicator – showed a less than expected improvement to 98 per cent from 98.4 per cent a year ago.

Pre-tax profit in the group’s life insurance segment jumped to SFr96.8 million from SFr11.7 million a year ago when one-off factors had reduced the figure.

All the business units abroad – in Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria – made an above-average contribution to group earnings relative to their business volume, the statement added.

In its outlook, Baloise said the dramatic floods and landslides in Switzerland and parts of Germany and Austria would leave their mark on the annual result.

But assuming there would be no further such extraordinary results, Baloise was convinced that it would be able to report a “substantial” year-on-year profit increase for the full year 2005.

The Baloise share price has increased by about 27 per cent this year, outperforming the Dow Jones Stoxx 50 insurance index.

swissinfo with agencies

The Baloise Group made a net profit of SFr218 million in the first six months of the year, up by 58 per cent over the comparable period last year.
The business volume amounted to SFr4.62 million, an increase of 2.8 per cent.
Baloise is expecting net losses of SFr100 million as a result of the flooding and landslides in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

The Baloise Group, which has its headquarters in Basel in northern Switzerland, is the country’s fourth-largest insurance company.

Its core markets are Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg.

The group employs a staff of about 8,000.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR