Swiss Re plans mass layoffs

The insurance deal looks set to cost more jobs than initially announced Keystone

Swiss Re is to axe up to 1,700 jobs worldwide as a result of its deal to take over the insurance division of United States company General Electric (GE).

This content was published on January 18, 2006 minutes

The announcement came as managers of both companies were meeting this week to discuss the group's future leadership.

Swiss Re chief executive Jacques Aigrain is quoted in Wednesday's German-language edition of the Financial Times newspaper as saying that up to 15 per cent of the combined workforce of Swiss Re and General Electric's Insurance Solutions would be subject to synergy.

The group reportedly wants to drastically reduce the number of senior executives, suggesting that many GE employees would be excluded.

"We will try to see what we can offer the GE people, not all will have a position. Some will take on jobs occupied by Swiss Re people at present," Aigrain said.

In November Swiss Re announced that only a couple of hundred jobs in the US and several European countries would be lost.

Good match

A spokesman for Zurich-based Swiss Re – currently the world's number two reinsurer – said the cuts would be made by the end of 2008 in a bid to save $300 million (SFr383 million) annually.

The combined global workforce is at present around 11,300 people. The spokesman said it was too early to say in which countries the cuts would be made.

"We are convinced that the takeover is beneficial," he said, adding that the two companies are strategically very well suited.

Three months ago Swiss Re announced it would purchase Insurance Solutions for $6.8 billion to become the world's biggest reinsurer.

The deal is expected to give the company combined revenues of SFr46 million and assets of SFr265 million.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Swiss Re is one of the world's leading reinsurers with a staff of 8,000 people.
It has its headquarters in Zurich and operates in more than 30 countries.
Kansas-based GE Insurance Solutions has a workforce of 3,300 and is represented in 28 countries.

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