UPDATE 1-Scor eyes 7 pct underlying annual sales growth
PARIS, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Scor is targeting annual sales growth, excluding acquisitions, of 7 percent through to mid-2016, the French reinsurer said on Wednesday, thanks in part to its recently announced purchase of rival Generali's U.S. assets.
Assuming a stable pricing environment, Scor said its new strategic plan also targeted annual premium growth of 8.5 percent for its non-life reinsurance arm.
Reinsurers such as Scor cover insurance companies looking to unload risk. Although the industry has enjoyed continued profitability, according to a recent Fitch report, it has been exposed to rock-bottom interest rates over the past few years that make it harder to generate investment returns.
Scor Chief Executive Denis Kessler cited a "very uncertain" macroeconomic environment, as well as new regulations.
European insurers are locked in a battle with regulators in a bid to give more flexibility to incoming risk rules known as "Solvency II", which aim to protect consumers better by pushing insurers to improve risk management and match capital reserves more closely to risks.
Scor has been shifting assets to the United States, where long-term interest rates are on the rise. The French company is set to become the largest life reinsurer in the United States after agreeing to buy Generali assets for $920 million earlier this year.
Thanks to "its status as leader on the U.S. market", Scor said it expected annual life premium growth of 6 percent as part of its new strategic plan.
Scor is also targeting a return on invested assets of over 3 percent by 2016.
Shares in Scor have gained around 16 percent year-to-date, better than a rise of 11.5 percent for the STOXX 600 Europe insurance index.
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