Zurich is one of the world's largest insurance groups, offering personal and commercial general and life cover. It operates primarily in Europe as Zurich and in the US through subsidiary Farmers as well as under the main Zurich brand, but has also been pushing into emerging markets with the ultimate goal of becoming one of the world's top five general insurers. It acquired US motor insurers Bristol West and 21st Century in the 2000s, and also opened preliminary merger talks with US insurer St Pauls to create a global giant. Those talks ended without agreement, as did a later attempt to acquire the UK's RSA. Instead, Zurich has continued to expand through selective acquisitions, mainly in emerging markets of Asia and Latin America. A big rise in exceptional catastrophe claims put expansion plans on hold temporarily at the end of 2015, but the acquisition drive restarted once more in 2017 with add-ons including travel insurer CoverMore and Australian life insurer OnePath. Mario Greco is group CEO. Revenues were $64bn in 2017. Unlike some of its rivals, who specialize in one or two segments, Zurich offers cover in virtually all market segments. The US is the group's single biggest market by far. Combined property & casualty premiums from Zurich and Farmers of almost $33bn in 2016 put the group in third place behind Allstate and Geico. However it ranks lower in the individual segments of homeowners peril or private passenger auto. The business was formed in 1998 following the merger of Swiss-based Zurich Group - originally formed in 1872 - with the financial services businesses owned by British American Tobacco, including Farmers in the US. However, following that merger the group struggled to manage its sprawling portfolio. Numerous smaller acquired brands - including Eagle Star and Allied Dunbar in the UK or Deutscher Herold in Germany - were absorbed into the main business; a host of other non-core operations - asset manager Threadneedle or Zurich Re reinsurance among others - have been sold.
Capsule checked 17th July 2018
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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Sep 2015: Insurance giant Zurich pulled the plug on talks to acquire UK rival RSA for £5.6bn. It found no fault in the smaller company's accounts, it said, but can no longer afford the deal because of huge claims relating to the recent explosions in the Chinese port of Tianjin. Payouts have already exceeded $275m. As a result, Zurich warned it will post a loss of around $200m for its 3Q.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Aug 2015: After several weeks of negotiation, British insurer RSA (the former Royal & Sun Alliance) has accepted in principle a takeover by larger rival Zurich worth £5.6bn, a premium of around 25% above the target company's share price before talks were disclosed. The deal is still conditional upon due diligence as well as shareholder approval. RSA is best-known globally for its life and pensions cover, though it also sells home, car and pet insurance in the UK under the More Than brand.
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