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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.