Swiss Re Targets Acquisitions in Growth Markets, CFO Says

Swiss Re Ltd. Chief Financial Officer George Quinn said the world’s second-biggest reinsurer is seeking to bolster its primary insurance unit through acquisitions in countries such as China, India and Brazil.

“We’d be looking to add either the geographical or the product expertise in some areas, typically bolt-on type transactions,” Quinn, 46, said in a telephone interview today. The Zurich-based firm is targeting faster-growing markets for reinsurance and its primary business called Corporate Solutions.

Swiss Re said today it plans to cut costs and repurchase debt to boost profitability and increase its dividend. The company forecast cost savings of as much as $300 million by 2015 and will cut leverage by more than $4 billion by 2016.

“Generally, we’d like to allocate more capital to the high-growth markets,” said Quinn. “There will be a preference for acquisitions that can increase Corporate Solutions’s exposure to those particular areas of the world.”

Quinn said Swiss Re has not set limits on how much it could spend on acquisitions for its Corporate Solutions unit.

In reinsurance, “it is completely conceivable that we would invest directly in the client” by taking a share of the equity of a primary insurer, the CFO said. Swiss Re last year invested in a Chinese property and casualty insurer, he said.

“We have a pipeline that we continually evaluate for potential further investments,” he said. “The amounts of money invested so far have been between $10 million and $50 million, so not incredibly high, and larger is possible.”

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