The Swiss Life Group got off to a good start in 2009, despite the challenging environment. The company generated a premium income of CHF 6392 million in the first quarter of 2009, which represents a slight decline of 3% compared to the same period last year, or a 1% decline after adjustment for currency effects. The strong premium growth in Switzerland and Germany could not entirely offset the negative premium developments experienced in France and in the business with high net worth individuals during the first three months of the year.
Strong premium growth in Switzerland and Germany
In Switzerland, Swiss Life‘s premium income grew 2% on the prior-year figure to CHF 4399 million due to the performance of group business. This positive development underscores Swiss Life's strong position in its home market. The premium income achieved by the individual insurance business matched the previous year’s level. In France, Swiss Life generated a premium income of CHF 1177 million, down 15% on the previous year’s strong result, or 9% in local currency. In the health insurance business, Swiss Life generated a premium income of CHF 500 million, which represents 4% growth in local currency. The life insurance business wrote premiums of CHF 540 million. The 15% decline in local currency is attributable to the challenging market environment, with many competitors offering clients higher guarantees. For profitability reasons, Swiss Life has refrained from following this trend. In Germany, the measures implemented in product design, the product innovations and the strategic partnership with AWD all impacted positively on premium growth, increasing it by 2% (9% in local currency) to CHF 506 million. In the global business with high net worth individuals (Private Placement Life Insurance or PPLI), the uncertainty surrounding the financial market crisis meant that target clients continued to focus on liquidity, which impacted negatively on premium growth in the first quarter of 2009. Swiss Life's premium income in this area declined by 31% to CHF 235 million in the period under review. By the end of April, however, Swiss Life was back on the growth path, generating premium volume of over CHF 1 billion in this business. In Luxembourg (without PPLI), premium income came to CHF 75 million, up 12% (20% in local currency) on the same period last year.
Positive investment result in line with expectations
The alignment of the asset allocation to the changed market environment and the general reduction of balance sheet risks in the second half of 2008 proved effective in the first quarter of 2009. The investment result on the insurance portfolio developed positively in line with expectations. Impairments due to defaults on corporate bonds were significantly lower than projected. Swiss Life booked cash repayments for hedge funds totalling CHF 629 million in the first quarter of 2009. Liquidity remains at a comfortable level and equity exposure has been held significantly lower than 1%. The rise in interest rates on long-term maturities since the beginning of 2009 resulted in a decline in the IFRS group solvency ratio as at 31 March 2009 from 159% to 150%. The statutory solvency ratio increased from 176% to 180%. Swiss Life's capital base thus remains solid.
AWD: Measures introduced to improve the income and profit situation
The AWD Group’s income and results declined on the prior-year period. Sales revenues decreased overall by 21% to EUR 130 million. The largest declines were experienced in the United Kingdom and Austria, where the financial market crisis is still impacting heavily on business. The challenging market conditions also resulted in an 11% drop in sales in Germany to EUR 85 million in the first quarter of 2009. However, AWD’s sales revenues in Switzerland, at EUR 18 million, matched the previous year’s level. As a result of the lower sales figures, the AWD Group posted a loss before interest and taxes of EUR 6 million for the first quarter of 2009. Due to the persistently difficult market environment and worsening economic conditions, AWD has implemented a variety of measures to improve the income and profit situation. All cost blocks will be reviewed in particular.
Cooperation with Talanx in preparation
As announced on 24 March, Talanx AG plans to purchase up to 9.9% of Swiss Life’s shares to reinforce the agreed cooperation in key areas. Talanx currently holds a 5.9% share in Swiss Life. In the interests of implementing the partnership, Swiss Life and Talanx have formed working groups to define the cooperation measures to be introduced in the areas identified. The topics include distribution through AWD, the international business with life insurance solutions, life reinsurance, operations involving selected products in certain defined areas, and the mutual use of public investment funds. Initial discussions on these topics have been held.
Personnel change in the Corporate Executive Board
In addition, Swiss Life announces that Thomas Müller, Group Chief Financial & Risk Officer, has decided to leave the company for personal reasons, following seven years of commendable service at the Swiss Life Group. Thomas Müller joined the Swiss Life Group in 2002 as Chief Financial & Risk Officer of Banca del Gottardo. On 1 January 2006 he was appointed Group Chief Financial Officer and Member of the Corporate Executive Board. He assumed the additional role of Group Risk Officer on 1 April 2008. The Board of Directors and the Corporate Executive Board would like to thank Thomas Müller warmly for his outstanding contribution to the successful development of the company over the past years. Thomas Müller will leave the company at the end of June. Bruno Pfister, Group CEO, will assume responsibility for the finance area until a successor is appointed.
Annual General Meeting in Zurich on 7 May 2009
Swiss Life Holding Ltd will hold its Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on 7 May 2009 in the Hallenstadion in Zurich. Items on the agenda include the reduction of share capital and the associated cancellation of the 3 003 500 shares (8.6%) purchased as part of the share buyback programme approved at the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of 8 May 2008. Shareholders will also vote on the dividend of CHF 5 per share in the form of a repayment of par value proposed by the Board of Directors, and on the election of Frank Schnewlin and Carsten Maschmeyer to the Board of Directors.
Telephone conference for financial analysts, investors and the media
A telephone conference for financial analysts, investors and the media will be held in English at 10:00 CET by Bruno Pfister and Thomas Müller. Please dial in ten minutes before the conference begins.
Dial-in number for Europe +41 91 610 56 00
Dial-in number for the UK +44 207 107 06 11
Dial-in number for the USA +1 (1) 866 291 41 66
Media release, incl. tables (PDF)
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.
The AWD Group has been part of the Swiss Life Group since 2008. Hanover-based AWD is one of the leading European financial services providers in the medium- and high-income client segments and offers its clients independent financial advisory services in ten 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.