Zurich International Life is to expand its presence in Europe and Asia this year following more than...
Zurich International Life is to expand its presence in Europe and Asia this year following more than 20% growth in new business in 2004. This comes after a number of years of consolidation by the Isle of Man offshore insurer as it decided to focus on those markets where it could be regulated.
Martin Davis, who became chief executive of Zurich International Life in December 2004, said: "We will not be rushing into any markets. It is important that we are regulated in any market in which we distribute." This strategy, which began four years ago, has left Zurich International Life distributing products in Hong Kong, the UAE, Bahrain and Argentina.
He added: "Our plans for continental Europe are under review. Zurich has an operation in Dublin that we could leverage off, although at the moment it is a domestic Irish business. Zurich also has offices around Europe that we could use to develop businesses.
"We are looking to enter two new markets this year, one of which will be in Asia." Davis would not confirm which market it is targeting in Asia, although it is believed to be Singapore.
Zurich International Life is to move to the DIFSC in Dubai, where it focuses on expatriate investors, including non-resident Indians via its 300 direct salesmen. "We believe there is potential to grow the group pensions market in the Middle East. While there is little demand for protection and group savings this will change if there is a move towards compulsory contributions to pensions."
A key factor in choosing new markets, said Davis, is whether it can be profitable to distribute products. "Our advantage over some of our competitors is that we can leverage off our group's presence in markets around the world. In continental Europe, for example, Zurich International Life will seek to use the group's existing offices, which makes new ventures more cost-effective for us."
Davis said Zurich International Life wrote £700m of business last year, which represented growth of 20%. "This has come as we have been cutting costs, partly through withdrawing from markets. Last year, we wrote 20% more business but our costs were 16% lower.
"Around a third of this business came from Hong Kong, another third from the Middle East, 20% from continental Europe and 20% from the UK (including the Crown Dependencies)."
• Zurich International Life reviews whether to use the group's Dublin hub to distribute products in continental Europe.
• The Isle of Man-based insurer plans to gain registration in another Asian market to complement its existing presence in Hong Kong
• Zurich International Life increased its new business by 20% to £700m last year while costs were reduced by 16%.
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