Zurich, ING weather credit market storm


Zurich, ING weather credit market storm
Swiss group Zurich Financial Services and Netherlands-based ING Group have beaten analyst expectations with their results.

Zurich Financial Services has reported a slight rise in first-half profit to $2.68 billion (£1.4 billion), despite "market challenges".

The insurer said it is on track to achieve its efficiencies target of $800 million (£426.2 million) for 2008.

Within its general insurance unit, the company's operating profit improved 22 per cent to $2.2 billion (£1.17 billion), while its combined ratio – the ratio of premiums paid in to claims paid out – improved 0.3 per cent to 96.2 per cent.

"These are excellent results under any market condition," said Zurich's chief executive James Schiro.

"Not only are we exercising strict operational and financial discipline, but we are also executing on a successful growth strategy that is bolstering our position in attractive markets."

The results contrasted with Dutch financial services group ING, which posted a 25 per cent drop in second quarter profit on declining investment earnings, to €1.92 billion (£1.5 billion).

The company wrote down €44 million (£34.9 million) in sub-prime and Alt-A assets over the period.

However, profits still beat analysts' expectations for the group.

"ING continues to weather the turmoil in credit markets well, as writedowns on pressurised assets remained limited in the second quarter," chief executive Michel Tilmant said in a statement.

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