In the words of Group CEO Bruno Pfister: "From the capital market’s perspective, 2008 was a disappointing year. At Swiss Life, however, we made progress in many areas on an operational level and strengthened our position for the future with product innovations in all markets. And the cooperation with AWD is beginning to bear fruit in Germany and Switzerland. To protect shareholder’s equity from any further negative impacts arising from the financial market crisis, we significantly reduced the risks carried on the balance sheet. These measures have proven to be effective in the last weeks and months. Our capital base remains solid and our investments are structured to generate earnings exceeding the benefits guaranteed to our clients, even under persistently difficult market conditions and at today's low interest levels. We are thus well equipped to successfully meet the current challenges, as confirmed by the good course of business in recent months."
Solid capital base
The Swiss Life Group’s shareholder’s equity stood at around CHF 6.6 billion on 31 December 2008, representing a decline of less than 10% on the prior-year figure of CHF 7240 million. The Group solvency ratio on an IFRS basis thus comes to around 160%, with the statutory solvency ratio at 175%. In addition, Swiss Life significantly reduced its balance sheet risks in the second half of 2008 to shield its equity from further negative repercussions of the financial market crisis. In this connection, and taking the interests of all stakeholders into account, Swiss Life also decided against redeeming the first tranche of the 1999 private placement of subordinated perpetual step-up notes totalling about CHF 970 million on the first possible call date in April 2009. The interest margin on this loan thus increases from 105 basis points to 205 basis points over LIBOR.
Conference call for financial analysts, investors and media
All figures quoted in this media release are provisional and unaudited. The Swiss Life Group will present its 2008 audited results in full on 24 March 2009, as planned. A conference call will be held in English today at 10:00 a.m. (CET) with Thomas Müller, Group CFO, to answer questions on this media release. Please dial in ten minutes before the conference begins.
In continental Europe, call +41 91 610 56 00
In the UK, call +44 207 107 06 11
In the USA, call +1 (1) 866 291 41 66
The Swiss Life Group is one of Europe's leading providers of life insurance and pension solutions. In Switzerland, France and Germany, the Group offers individuals and corporations comprehensive advice and a broad range of products through its own sales force as well as brokers and banks. Swiss Life provides international corporations with employee benefits solutions from a single source, and is one of the global leaders in structured life and pension products for international high net worth individuals.
Swiss Life is the majority shareholder of the Hanover-based AWD Group, one of Europe's top financial services providers for the medium- and high-income customer segments. AWD offers its clients independent financial advisory services. Around 6300 advisors and intermediaries work for the AWD Group in ten European countries.
Swiss Life Holding Ltd, registered in Zurich, was founded in 1857 as Schweizerische Rentenanstalt. The shares of Swiss Life Holding Ltd are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (SLHN). The Swiss Life Group employs a staff of around 9000.
This publication contains specific forward-looking statements, e.g. statements including terms like “believe”, “assume”, “expect” or similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors which may result in a substantial divergence between the actual results, financial situation, development, performance or expectations of Swiss Life and those explicitly or implicitly presumed in these statements. Against the background of these uncertainties, readers are cautioned that these statements are only projections and that no undue reliance should be placed on such forward-looking statements. Neither Swiss Life nor any of its directors, officers, employees or advisors nor any other person connected or otherwise associated with Swiss Life makes any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication. Neither Swiss Life nor any of the aforementioned persons shall have any liability whatsoever for loss howsoever arising, directly or indirectly, from any use of this information. Furthermore, Swiss Life assumes no responsibility to publicly update or alter its forward-looking statements or to adapt them, whether as a result of new information, future events or developments or any other reason.