Swiss Life to buy French insurance business

Swiss Life is looking abroad for growth prospects Keystone Archive

Swiss Life is to buy the French insurance arm of the Belgian-Dutch financial services group, Fortis.

This content was published on February 12, 2002

Fortis said in a statement that it expected to sell the unit for between €150 and €200 million (SFr221 to SFr295 million) and that the deal should be completed by the middle of the year.

Swiss Life, Switzerland's largest insurer, said in December that it was holding talks to buy Fortis France, which derives the bulk of its business from life insurer, Fortis Assurances.

Fortis says it is selling the business because Fortis France has a market share of less than one per cent, with annual premium income of around €600 million.

Swiss Life has increasingly looked abroad for growth prospects since the Swiss insurance market is saturated. It already operates in France through HSBC/CCF Erisa joint projects.

The Swiss insurance company said in a separate statement that the purchase would allow it to build up its core business in a profitable market, as well as strengthen its distribution network.

Swiss Life had gross premium income of SFr4.43 billion in France in 2000, or more than a fifth of the group total of SFr19.3 billion.

Fortis France has a staff of around 700 people and offers life, pension, unit-linked and savings-related products.

Swiss Life has seen its share price come under pressure in recent weeks after issuing a profit warning and embarking on a cost cutting programme.

swissinfo with agencies

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