October 9, 2018 / 1:20 PM / 8 days ago

Zurich CEO pans big acquisitions, merger - Finanz und Wirtschaft

ZURICH (Reuters) - Zurich Insurance Group (ZURN.S) does not need a big acquisition nor does a merger with a large rival make sense, Chief Executive Mario Greco said in an interview published on Tuesday in Finanz und Wirtschaft.

Logo of Zurich insurance is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

“I do not think it is sensible,” Greco told the Swiss newspaper.

While he expected consolidation in the fragmented insurance industry, he sees “absolutely no advantages to a merger among giants”. Instead, he said, Zurich has the financial muscle to make strategic takeovers in markets where it is looking to expand using its existing cash flow.

Zurich will refrain from expanding in China and India until those countries lift rules forbidding foreign insurers from taking majority stakes, he added.

While Greco told the newspaper he is not a fan of share buybacks, he said such a decision is the purview of the board of directors. In an industry that has been struggling to boost returns on investment, he said U.S. interest rate hikes “are the best thing that could happen”.

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields

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