(Adds details, CEO comments)
PARIS Feb 20 France's largest life insurer CNP
said on Thursday it aims to maintain its position as
one of the leading players in Brazil after reporting an 8.3
percent rise in 2013 net profit that was boosted by strong
demand in Latin America and a recovering Italian market.
Low interest rates in Europe continued to weigh on the
insurer's earnings, but the diversification strategy helped
tailor new high-margin business for the company.
CNP now derives around 25 percent of its premium income
outside France, with the largest footprint in Brazil and Italy.
In France, its home market, premium income fell 1.8 percent
to 21.1 billion euros. In Europe, underlying premium income
surged 50.7 percent on an upturn in Italy from a weak 2012.
"We have a very strong recovery in activity in Italy after a
year that had been very, very bad," said Antoine Lissowski,
chief financial officer.
Premiums rose 4.9 percent in Brazil, where the growing
middle income class boosted demand for retirement packages and
personal risk contracts.
CNP's results in Latin America were nevertheless pressured
by depreciation of Brazil's real by 14 percent on average versus
the euro in 2013, as the U.S. Federal Reserve tapering of its
bond buying programme hit emerging market currencies.
"Brazil is characterized by high social mobility, so our aim
is to remain one of the largest insurance players in Brazil,"
Frederic Lavenir, Chief Executive Officer, told journalists
after the results.
CNP Assurances is currently the fifth biggest insurer in
Shares in CNP Assurances were little changed, up 0.48
percent on the day, but investor remain concerned about the
progress of talks with key shareholder BPCE over the
future of a partnership with the retail bank which expires in
If no deal can be reached renewing the agreement, CNP would
lose the ability to exclusively distribute life insurance
products through networks of BPCE. Revenue resulting from the
partnership rose 7.3 percent in 2013, accounting for 36 percent
of CNP total premium income in France.
Lavenir said he was confident a long-term partnership could
be established after 2016 and that CNP was working on possible
options for a new agreement.
"There is no risk of destabilisation," Lavenir said.
BPCE and state-owned Banque Postale together own 36 percent
($1 = 0.7271 euros)
(Reporting by Andrew Callus and Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by