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Zurich Insurance exploring selective acquisitions, chairman says

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Zurich Insurance exploring selective acquisitions, chairman says

Chairman Tom de Swaan said March 30 that the company is exploring opportunitiesto strengthen its position by making selective acquisitions in what he called"interesting markets."

Aspart of a plan to optimize geographic coverage, de Swaan said in remarksprepared for the group's annual general meeting that the company has withdrawnfrom various markets that were non-profitable or that had low growth potential.This process will continue in 2016, he added.

Thegeneral insurance business was not profitable in 2015 from an underwritingperspective, reflecting, in part, a lack of customary discipline whenunderwriting risks in certain areas. "This is not acceptable," hesaid. The company took several measures to address the deterioratingperformance in general insurance, and expects significantly better results in2016.

Thecompany's business operating profit for full year 2015 was $2.92 billion, downfrom $4.64 billion in the year-ago period. Zurich Insurance net income attributable toshareholders of $1.84 billion for 2015, down from $3.95 billion in the year-agoperiod.

Meanwhile,the company wants to significantly exceed the $300 million in cost savingsannounced for 2016 and is on track to hit its target of realizing groupwideefficiency improvements of more than $1 billion by the end of 2018.

Thecompany will be implementing new technologies and simplifying the organization,among other measures, as part of the cost-cutting program, which is expected toaffect around 8,000 positions by the end of 2018, the chairman said.

Theannual general meeting on March 30 approved an unchanged dividend of CHF17 perregistered share for 2015. The company aims to maintain "an attractive andsustainable" dividend policy in the future, de Swaan said.

Inaddition, Zurich Insurance Group's shareholders elected David Nish and JeffreyHayman to the board. ThomasEscher, Rafael del Pino and Don Nicolaisen did not stand for re-election.