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profit problems Thousands of jobs on the line at Zurich Insurance

Interim CEO and chairman, Tom de Swaan, said the insurer will now focus on turning around their general insurance business

(Keystone)

Around 8,000 jobs are at risk at Zurich Insurance as the company battles falling profit and turnover.

On Thursday, Zurich reported a fourth-quarter loss, stemming from damage claims, including the Tianjin disaster in China and storms in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 2015 was a difficult year for the company, and the latest results have led the insurance firm to make definitive plans for a cost-saving programme.

Zurich said last year that it wanted to make savings of up to CHF1 billion ($1.03 billion) by 2018.

It has now been announced that 8,000 jobs will be affected worldwide. A spokesperson for the insurer told swissinfo.ch that although they could not give any “specific numbers” for how many jobs will be hit in Switzerland, around 10% of the global workforce is based here.

It was already communicated last year that 300 jobs would be affected in Switzerland but it is unclear whether they will be relocated, merged with other positions or phased out. Any changes in relation to the latest round of cost-cutting measures would take this figure into account.

Zurich warned in January that they expected losses in operating and net profit. The company recorded a 37% fall in operating profit for 2015 of $2.9 billion and a net profit of $1.8 billion, down 53%. In the fourth quarter, the insurer suffered a $424 million loss.

Mario Greco, the new chief executive, will take up his position from March 7, instead of the beginning of May as initially planned. He stood down with immediate effect from his role at his most recent employer, Generali, on Thursday.

Interim CEO and chairman, Tom de Swaan, said in a statement, “Our key priorities in 2016 will be turning around our general insurance business and continuing actions to position the group for 2017 and beyond.” He added the required savings would be achieved through “the application of new technology, lean processes and the offshoring and near shoring of some activities”.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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