Switzerland's largest life insurance company, Swiss Life, has announced a substantial increase in profit for 1999. It rose by 41.6 per cent to SFr387 million.
At a news conference in Zurich, the company said on Tuesday it expected "further strong earnings growth" for the financial year 2000.
"In 1999, Swiss Life made decisive progress in realising its strategy of broadening services to transform an insurance company into a financial services provider," said Swiss Life president Manfred Zobl.
The company made a number of major acquisitions last year, including the Banca del Gottardo, which substantially expanded Swiss Life's position in private banking and the financial investment sector.
Another important step was the acquisition on January 1, 2000 of the Schweizerische Treuhandgesellschaft STG (consultancy services and financial planing).
Swiss Life also expanded abroad in 1999, markedly strengthening its position in France by acquiring Lloyd Continental and a majority holding in ERISA, an insurance subsidiary of Crédit Commercial de France, CCF.
"We want to be a leading independent provider of attractive solutions - focused in Europe - in the areas of long-term savings and protection, with competencies in asset management and risk management," Zobl said.
Despite a slight decrease in Switzerland, premium income rose again in 1999 to SFr17.9 billion, to which the life sector contributed 87 per cent and the non-life sector 13 per cent. In particular, newly consolidated companies in France contributed to the result.
Swiss Life said assets under management increased by 17.5 per cent in the first quarter, totalling SFr225 billion. Insurance operations also experienced a rise, especially abroad ( 27 per cent). The company added that fund business in particular showed a great amount of potential for the future.
"New and ambitious targets have been set for 2000 and the following years aimed at continuing the company's successful performance," Zobl said.
by Robert Brookes