Italy rebound helps lift Generali's operating profit

MILAN, July 31 Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:51am EDT

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MILAN, July 31 (Reuters) - Generali posted a 20.4 percent increase in operating profit in the second quarter of the year, helped by a shift towards higher-margin insurance products and a surprisingly strong performance in crisis-hit Italy.

The second quarter marks the end of an intense phase of disposals that have helped Generali boost its capital base. From now on, Italy's biggest insurer is expected to fully focus on its operating performance.

In a statement on Thursday, Generali said its operating profit had risen to 1.253 billion euros ($1.68 billion) in the quarter, against 1.040 billion euros for the same period a year earlier.

The company, Europe's third-largest insurer by market value, said its closely-watched Solvency I ratio stood at 162 percent at the end of June, reaching a year ahead of time a self-imposed target of 160 percent.

Generali's net profit, affected by several one-off events, fell however 13 percent to 416 million euros. ($1 = 0.7465 Euros) (Reporting by Lisa Jucca)

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