Switzerland's largest life insurer, Swiss Life, has told its customers that their pensions are "safe and secure", despite the collapse in equity markets.
In a statement on Thursday, the company insisted it could "meet its obligations at any time".
Shares in Swiss Life have fallen by around three-quarters this year, after losing almost half their value in 2001.
Swiss Life said it had taken measures at the beginning of the year to reduce exposure to the share market, down from 17 per cent at the end of 2001 to the current figure of 6.5 per cent.
Reduced stock market exposure
In May, the insurer sold off its stakes in two non-core businesses, raising SFr554 million.
"The quality of Swiss Life's stock and bond portfolio is very good, with relatively light weightings for the shares which suffered steep market declines in recent weeks," said the statement.
The firm said that on July 3, the Swiss Federal Office of Private Insurance - the sector's supervisory body - confirmed that Swiss Life satisfied all the legal requirements for security and strength of its equity base.
The Zurich-based company reported in April that net profit fell to SFr124 million ($85.6 million) last year, down from SFr924 million in 2000.
The insurer also announced measures to bolster financial strength, including 800 job cuts worldwide and an accelerated efficiency drive to reduce administrative costs by SFr300 million.
Zurich Financial Services
Europe's third largest insurer, Zurich Financial Services, was also seeking to calm frayed nerves on Thursday. The company's CEO, Jim Schiro, told employees in a memo received by Reuters that the business was sound.
"Zurich's capital base remains strong and the company has sufficient resources to face this challenging environment," he said.
swissinfo with agencies
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