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Insurer earns big despite storm costs

The headquarters of Baloise are in Basel Keystone

Net profit at Swiss insurer Baloise rose by a better-than-expected 81 per cent to SFr404 million ($312 million) last year.

The group said last year’s floods in Switzerland, Austria and Germany had a SFr68 million impact on its pre-tax result, which was significantly lower than its original estimate of SFr100 million.

Baloise said on Tuesday all of its insurance and banking sectors contributed to the strong performance.

It said it would ask shareholders at its general assembly next month to double its cash dividend to SFr2.20 compared to last year.

The Baloise board also said it intended to buy back 10 per cent of its shares within the next three years.

“Baloise is striving for a return on equity of 15 per cent by 2008,” it said.

Ahead of schedule

“We exceeded all of our most important targets,” said chief executive Frank Schnewlin.

“We’ve achieved our goal of a 10 per cent yield on our equity capital a year earlier than expected. We attained this massive increase despite the devastating storms, which weighed on the results,” he said.

The non-life insurance sector recorded a pre-tax profit of SFr254 million – a six per cent rise on 2004.

Life insurance profits were more than double that of the previous year – SFr151 million compared to SFr68 million.

swissinfo with agencies

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

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR