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Zurich profits fall 40 per cent

Zurich’s operating profit world-wide has plunged 40 per cent in the first quarter to £728m compared with the same time last year.

For group life business, the Swiss-based firm’s operating profit after tax fell 35 per cent from £225m to £147m.

Zurich’s life new business dropped 7 per cent across the group, from £105m to £98m, in the first quarter compared with Q1 2008.

Meanwhile group investments plummeted a staggering 62 per cent in the quarter to £540m. The firm realised losses and impairments amounting to £662m.

The firm’s solvency position sat at 157 per cent at March 31. Shareholders’ equity increased 1 per cent from year-end to £14.7bn.

Zurich chief executive officer James J. Schiro says: “We have shown continual quarter on quarter improvement since the financial crisis began, and remain confident in our strategy despite the ongoing financial turmoil.

“Though we anticipate 2009 to remain challenging, I am pleased with our ability to maintain our strong solvency ratio and add to shareholders’ surplus while capitalizing on market opportunities that emerge.”

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