August 27, 2014 / 6:07 AM / in 3 years

Uniqa on track for 2014 profit gain

VIENNA, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Austrian insurer Uniqa remains on track to boost 2014 pretax profit sharply, it said on Wednesday while reporting that underlying profit rose by a quarter in the first half.

Pretax profit fell 7.7 percent to 181.4 million euros ($238.7 million) but was up 24.7 percent adjusted for a 51 million euro gain it booked a year ago from the sale of a hotel group, it said.

Premiums written - including the savings portion from unit- and index-linked life insurance - rose 2.0 percent to 3.13 billion euros.

Its combined ratio - a measure of profitability in the property and accident segments - improved by 1.1 percentage points to 98.3 percent despite claims for flood damage in eastern and southeastern Europe.

It took a hit of 19 million euros from writing down bonds of nationalised Austrian lender Hypo Alpe Adria Bank International after Austria passed a law wiping out holders of some subordinated debt guaranteed by Hypo’s home province.

“We remain on target for again considerably increasing our EBT (pretax profit) for 2014 as a whole compared to 2013,” Chief Executive Andreas Brandstetter said.

The outlook refers to beating last year’s pretax profit of 305.6 million euros.

The outlook assumes stable capital markets, moderate improvement in the economy and normal losses from natural disasters.

Uniqa’s solvency ratio improved by 14.7 percentage points from the end of 2013 to 301.8 percent,

In May, Uniqa had stuck to its forecast for a significant gain in 2014 profit, noting its business in Ukraine and Russia was growing despite the political crisis between the two countries. (1 US dollar = 0.7599 euro) (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)

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