Zurich Financial Services to sell stake in Bâlois insurance

CEO and chairman Rolf Hüppi has his hands full grappling with Zurich's Financial Services balance sheet Keystone

Zurich Financial Services announced on Friday that it would sell it's 21 per cent stake in Bâlois insurance worth an estimated SFr 196.5 million ($119 million) profit before tax .

This content was published on December 22, 2001 - 10:42

The announcement, made late on Friday, will come as good news to investors after the company made public its gloomy profit forecasts for 2001 earlier on Friday.

Zurich Financial Services said it expected to make a net loss for 2001 of between $200 and $400 million (SFr327.2 - SFr654.4 million). It is not clear whether this takes into account the sale of its shares in Bâlois insurance.

The earlier news sent the company's share price tumbling finishing the day at SFr394 ($239) after a daytime low of SFr 371 ($225). At the close of trade on Thursday, the share price stood at SFr414.

Downward Forecast

The company said in a statement the downward forecast was due to a number of factors, including "the consequences of the September 11 attacks, asset impairment charges, lower investment income, higher than expected non-life insurance claims and the deterioration in the results of discontinued operations".

The company said the estimate includes direct insurance losses from the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States totalling $760 million.

Zurich also said it expects a so-called normalised net profit figure of $700-900 million.

Normalised net profit, which discounts investment gains and losses at a fixed rate, is the company's preferred profit figure.

Prior to the attacks, Zurich had estimated a normalised net profit of $1.8-2 billion.

Rolf Hüppi, Zurich Financial Services chairman and chief executive officer, said before the attacks that trading conditions "would indicate that our previous normalised net income guidance range of $1.8-2 billion for 2001 remains within reach."

Hüppi has come under mounting pressure this year but survived a vote of no confidence at the group's annual shareholders' meeting

swissinfo with agencies

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