• Zurich plans to stop writing new non-life business in region
  • Company says still committed to Middle East life insurance

Zurich Insurance Group Plc said it will stop writing general insurance business in the Middle East at the end of month because of the "limited potential" for profitable growth.

The decision to exit general insurance in the region follows a company-wide strategic review. Zurich remains “committed” to its life insurance unit in the Middle East, which won’t be affected by the decision, the company said in a statement on Thursday. Zurich said it’s unclear how many jobs will be cut.

The strategic change reflects “the challenges of building a strong and profitable franchise across multiple markets in the region,” said Brian Reilly, chief executive officer of Zurich’s general insurance business in the Middle East.

Switzerland’s largest insurer earlier this month announced plans to cut jobs and exit some businesses in a reorganization of its global general insurance unit after the non-life business reported a third-quarter loss. Zurich also intends to eliminate more than 400 jobs in the U.K.

The company will stop writing new general insurance policies for retail and small business customers in the Middle East by the end of the month and plans to completely exit by the end of 2016, the statement showed.

Zurich’s global corporate business will continue to underwrite new policies under a Dubai reinsurance license, though it will stop writing new business under their onshore license through other branches in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Lebanon, the company said.

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