Russian business sale hits Zurich's bottom line
Swiss group Zurich Insurance says its net profit dropped three percent last year due to the sale of a Russian business and a tough economic environment.
The top Swiss insurer said in a statement released on Thursday that its net income dropped to $3.9 billion in 2014 from the previous year, while turnover increased by six percent to $74.43 billion.
Operating profit meanwhile declined one percent from the preceding year to $4.64 billion.
Chief Executive Officer Martin Senn said the results were "below expectations," saying the insurance industry was buffeted by "external headwinds" and a tough macroeconomic environment.
Zurich Insurance spokeswoman Sylvia Gaumann also blamed the lower profit on a $247-million loss in the fourth quarter over the sale of a Russian retail business.
The bank had announced it would suffer such a loss back in October, although it anticipated a higher figure of around $300 million.
The Swiss stock market punished the firm as the share value dropped by 3.10 percent by the end of trading on Thursday while the main SMI index increased by 0.39 percent.
In the fourth quarter of last year, the firm's net profit dropped by 20 percent to $858 million, while its turnover increased 13 percent to $19.7 billion.
The insurer's board of directors proposed for 2014 a dividend of 17 francs per share, unchanged from the previous year.