UPDATE 2-Swiss Life continues asset management push under new CEO

Wed Aug 13, 2014 7:03am EDT

Related Topics

* First-half net profit rises 3 pct to 487 mln Sfr

* Buys real estate firm Corpus Sireo for 210 mln euros

* Premium income in Switzerland up 12 pct at 6.6 bln Sfr

* Shares up more than 4 pct, highest level since April (Adds detail, analysts, share price)

By Alice Baghdjian

ZURICH, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Swiss Life said it was buying a German real estate firm as the insurance company moves increasingly into asset management to diversify its revenue stream under new Chief Executive Patrick Frost.

The Swiss insurer said it was buying real estate service provider Corpus Sireo for 210 million euros ($280.6 million), with the deal due to close in the second half of the year pending regulatory approval.

The German company manages around 16 billion euros in real estate assets for its investor and bank clients, generating revenues of 160 million euros a year, Swiss Life said.

Swiss Life's total volume in asset management with external customers stood at 27.6 billion Swiss francs (23 billion euros) at the end of 2013.

Frost, who took over as CEO in July, said the acquisition would extend Swiss Life's position as a top provider of real estate asset management from Switzerland and France to Germany.

The insurer has been pushing its asset management segment since last year.

"The real estate management acquisition in Germany is in line with Swiss Life's strategy and offers further fee income growth, confirming the importance of third-party asset management," said Vontobel analyst Stefan Schuermann, who has a "buy" rating on the stock.

Shares in Swiss Life were trading 6.2 percent higher by 1100 GMT, outperforming the European insurance index and hitting their highest level since April.

PROFIT UP

The insurer's first-half premium income in Switzerland rose 12 percent to 6.6 billion Swiss francs, driven by its occupational pensions business. Its second-biggest market, France, saw a 4 percent increase in premiums in the first half.

This helped Swiss Life report a 3-percent rise in net profit to 487 million francs, beating a forecast for 454 million, the average of eight estimates in a Reuters poll of banks and brokerages.

Income at its business that sells insurance policies to wealthy clients worldwide fell to 1 billion francs in the first half from 1.3 billion a year earlier. Swiss Life had already flagged lower income in this division in May.

The unit sells policies known as wrappers, or Private Placement Life Insurance (PPLI), into which the very wealthy place stocks, private-equity holdings and other bankable assets, allowing them to lower their tax rate.

Overall premium volume in local currency terms rose 5 percent in the first half to 10.8 billion francs.

Swiss Life said its first-half solvency ratio - a measure of an insurer's ability to meet future claims - rose to 243 percent from 210 percent at the end of 2013. (1 US dollar = 0.7483 euro) (1 US dollar = 0.9082 Swiss franc) (1 euro = 1.2126 Swiss franc) (Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Shadia Nasralla)

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