Zurich Insurance’s Asia Plans

by swisscham in Bank, Finance, Insurance

Switzerland’s largest insurer has blown hot and cold in Asia and China in recent years. The insurer’s top man in Asia, Jack Howell, has made clear that Zurich is keen to jump back into the mainland China market, a full five years after offloading New China Life. The remarks represent a pledge to remain in Asia, after reports that Zurich was seeking a partial or full exit. Does Zurich view the 2013 sale as a mistake, then? Not exactly, according to Zurich Chairman Michel Lis. ÒIf you have an outstanding portfolio, but you can’t establish or deepen contact with your clients, then a sale is an option,Ó he told Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung. Zurich has been a quiet acquirer, snapping up Macquarie’s retail life insurance protection arm in Australia, MAA Takaful Berhad, a sharia insurance business in Malaysia, and Cover-More, an Australian travel insurer. Last year, Zurich posted a more than 42% drop in pre-tax profit in property and casualty insurance to USD 155 million when reserves from previous years fell away. Its life business hiked profit by more than 73% to USD 132 million. For comparison, Zurich’s overall pre-tax profit is USD 3.8 billion. While Howell told the South China Morning Post in January that Zurich would love to get back into China, Lis said that Asia is more than the economic juggernaut. ÒChina is a key part of our strategy in Asia, but it isn’t the only market we’re looking at.Ó

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