Swiss Life shares rocket after chief executive takes his leave

 
City A.M. Reporter
SWISS Life chief executive Bruno Pfister will resign next year and be replaced by investment chief Patrick Frost, drawing a line under a tenure associated with troubles at German arm AWD that culminated in a hefty writedown last year.

Shares in Switzerland’s biggest dedicated life insurer jumped nearly six per cent after the announcement yesterday morning, hitting their highest level since 2008 and lifting the stock to the top of the European insurance sector index. Frost will replace Pfister, 54, on 1 July.

Swiss Life finance chief Thomas Buess said there would not be any change in strategy.

Swiss Life bought Hanover-based AWD for €1.2bn (£1bn) in 2008. But the division struggled in the years after the purchase and the group wrote down about half the value of AWD, now known as Swiss Life Select, in 2012.

“We are now starting to see light at end of tunnel,” Buess said.

The insurer posted a six per cent rise in premium income in local currencies to SwFr13.7bn in the first nine months of 2013, and said it was halfway through implementing its cost-reduction measures.