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Swiss Life Sales Climb 1% on Growth at French Unit

Swiss Life Holding AG, Switzerland’s biggest life insurer, said third-quarter sales rose 1 percent, as premium income in France offset a fall in revenue at German unit AWD Holding AG.

Premiums expanded to 2.98 billion Swiss francs ($3.1 billion) from 2.96 billion francs a year earlier, the Zurich-based company said in a statement today. Third-quarter sales rose 4 percent to 1.02 billion francs in France while advancing 1 percent to 1.15 billion francs at the Swiss unit.

“We again expanded our market position in strategically important business areas such as occupational pensions business in Switzerland and health, death and disability insurance in France,” Chief Executive Officer Bruno Pfister said.

Swiss Life is trying to reduce its dependency on investment income and compensate for a decline in revenue from selling life policies, known as wrappers, to wealthy clients of Swiss private banks. It plans to make more savings after reducing annual costs by 404 million francs since 2009.

The share dropped 0.5 percent to 116 francs at 10:49 a.m. in Zurich, valuing the company at 3.7 billion francs. It has climbed 34 percent this year, outpacing a 24 percent gain for the Stoxx Insurance 600 index.

Revenue at AWD Holding AG, Germany’s second-biggest financial services broker that Swiss Life bought in 2008, fell 13 percent in the first nine months and dropped an annual 15 percent in the third quarter to 108 million euros ($137 million). A goodwill impairment on AWD may be possible in the fourth quarter, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Buess said in a conference call with investors.

“AWD heavily disappointed once again,” Fabrizio Croce, a Zurich-based analyst with Kepler Capital Markets, wrote in an e-mailed report to investors. Overall earnings growth at Swiss Life is “disappointingly low,” he said.

Swiss Life is targeting a return on equity of between 10 percent and 12 percent this year from selling more pension products and a new business margin of 2.2 percent.

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