BoE stress tests: all you need to know

The Bank of England has released the results of its latest round of its annual banking stress tests and its semi-annual financial stability report this morning. Used to measure the resilience of a bank’s balance sheet in adverse scenarios, the stress tests measured the impact of a severe slowdown in Chinese growth, a global recession […]

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Draghi: Eurozone will decline without vital productivity growth

It’s productivity, stupid. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi has become the latest major policymaker to warn of the long-term economic damage posed by chronically low productivity growth, as he urged eurozone governments to take action to lift growth and stoke innovation. Speaking in Madrid on Wednesday, Mr Draghi noted that productivity rises in the […]

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Asia markets tentative ahead of Opec meeting

Wednesday 2.30am GMT Overview Markets across Asia were treading cautiously on Wednesday, following mild overnight gains for Wall Street, a weakening of the US dollar and as investors turned their attention to a meeting between Opec members later today. What to watch Oil prices are in focus ahead of Wednesday’s Opec meeting in Vienna. The […]

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Banks, Financial

RBS emerges as biggest failure in tough UK bank stress tests

Royal Bank of Scotland has emerged as the biggest failure in the UK’s annual stress tests, forcing the state-controlled lender to present regulators with a new plan to bolster its capital position by at least £2bn. Barclays and Standard Chartered also failed to meet some of their minimum hurdles in the toughest stress scenario ever […]

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Barclays: life in the old dog yet

Barclays, a former basket case of British banking, is beginning to look inspiringly mediocre. The bank has failed Bank of England stress tests less resoundingly than Royal Bank of Scotland. Investors believe its assets are worth only 10 per cent less than their book value, judging from the share price. Although Barclays’s legal team have […]

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Categorized | Insurance

Generali ‘back in the race’, says chief

Posted on July 31, 2014

Pedestrians pass a Banca Popolare di Vicenza Scrl bank branch located beneath the Rome headquarters of Assicurazioni Generali SpA in Rome, Italy, on Thursday, July 19, 2012. Assicurazioni Generali SpA was among three Italian insurers downgraded by Moody's Investors Service, which cited the nation's "weakening" creditworthiness. Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg©Bloomberg

Generali’s chief executive said the Italian insurer is “back in the race” with rivals Allianz and Axa, announcing it would hit 2015 targets ahead of schedule after first-half profit rose to its highest level in 10 years.

Generali, one of Europe’s largest insurers by premiums, on Thursday said operating profit rose 9.5 per cent to €2.5bn in the first half. Revenues from property and casualty rose 15 per cent. New products and business were behind a 3.4 per cent rise in written premiums to €35.4bn.

    The insurer is also close to signing a deal to acquire a Malaysian insurer for about €100m, according to people familiar with the matter. It is the latest sign of the group’s expansion into Asia as Mario Greco, chief executive, seeks to diversify beyond its core markets in Germany, Italy and France.

    “Our results show that we are quickly moving toward our targets ahead of plan,” Mr Greco said.

    Appointed in 2012 after a boardroom battle ousted the insurer’s former chairman and chief executive in swift succession, Mr Greco has raised nearly €4bn from the sale of non-core assets and is cutting costs and has doubled the dividend.

    Net profit was flat at €1bn after writedowns following the sale of non-core businesses, including most recently Swiss asset manager BSI to BTG Pactual. Generali said it made a writedown of €113m related to BSI.

    Michael van Wegen, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said Generali was making significant progress in closing the performance gap with the sector.