March 11, 2014 / 7:00 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 2-Zurich Insurance to cut about 800 jobs globally

* Job cuts represent 1.4 pct of global headcount

* Part of overhaul to improve profitability

* Zurich targeting RoE of 12-14 pct through 2016 (Adds details, background)

ZURICH, March 11 (Reuters) - Zurich Insurance Group will cut about 800 jobs globally to save around $250 million per year by the end of 2015 as part of a drive to reduce costs and improve profitability.

The company is overhauling its business by investing in high margin units and selling underperforming lines as it works to hone profitability after lowering a key target last December.

On Tuesday, the insurer said the job cuts, which are equivalent to 1.4 percent of its total headcount, would remove management layers between the group and its business units. Customer-facing activities would not be affected, it added.

“We continue to make significant progress towards our strategic goal to make Zurich a focused and more profitable business,” Chief Executive Martin Senn said in a statement.

Senn said in December that Zurich would invest in global corporate and mid-market business, as well as its high-margin retail insurance lines, while either turning around or exiting non-core insurance businesses that were underperforming.

The insurer also pledged to grow operating earnings through 2016 by reducing complexity, as it lowered its target for return on equity (RoE) to 12-14 percent through 2016, from 16 percent.

Senn stressed that the company was striving to be at the upper end of that goal and that he would be disappointed if the company was still at 12 percent in three years time. (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and Caroline Copley; Editing by Mark Potter)

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