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Zurich reveals plans to reinvent itself after posting record profits

The Zurich Financial Services Group has announced an "excellent result" for 1999, with net profit up by nearly 16 per cent to a record SFr5.4 billion (US$3.26 billion).

The Zurich Financial Services Group has announced an "excellent result" for 1999, with net profit up by nearly 16 per cent to a record SFr5.4 billion (US$3.26 billion).

The group, which was created in September 1998 through the merger of the Zurich Group and the financial services business of Britain's B.A.T. Industries, said Wednesday it would now launch a drive to "reinvent itself" for the New Economy.

"A marked improvement in non-life underwriting results, good growth in life and fee income, and wider asset management margins have all contributed to this favourable result," a company statement said.

The group proposes paying shareholders of Swiss-listed Zurich Allied a dividend of SFr17.15 (1998 - SFr13.50) and raising the dividend for shareholders of the British co-holding company Allied Zurich to 15.11 pence, up from 13 pence.

Analysts were pleased with the slightly stronger than expected results, although there had been some speculation that a unified share structure might be announced.

Zurich said it was aligning its strategic direction for success in the New Economy. "Zurich is transforming itself into a new economy "high-touch" and technology driven company," the statement said.

It added that opportunities offered by the Internet would enable Zurich to develop new business models involving a network of partnerships and alliances. "These alliances will provide access to number of customers far in excess of the present 35 million," the statement added.

Zurich is to offer personalised portals to its customers, advisers and intermediaries which will provide access to insurance, investment and other financial services products.

swissinfo with agencies

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