UPDATE 1-CNP Assurances 2013 profit boosted by Brazil

jueves 20 de febrero de 2014 10:05 GYT

(Adds details, CEO comments)

PARIS Feb 20 (Reuters) - France's largest life insurer CNP said on Thursday it aims to maintain its position as one of the leading players in Brazil after reporting an 8.3 percent rise in 2013 net profit that was boosted by strong demand in Latin America and a recovering Italian market.

Low interest rates in Europe continued to weigh on the insurer's earnings, but the diversification strategy helped tailor new high-margin business for the company.

CNP now derives around 25 percent of its premium income outside France, with the largest footprint in Brazil and Italy.

In France, its home market, premium income fell 1.8 percent to 21.1 billion euros. In Europe, underlying premium income surged 50.7 percent on an upturn in Italy from a weak 2012.

"We have a very strong recovery in activity in Italy after a year that had been very, very bad," said Antoine Lissowski, chief financial officer.

Premiums rose 4.9 percent in Brazil, where the growing middle income class boosted demand for retirement packages and personal risk contracts.

CNP's results in Latin America were nevertheless pressured by depreciation of Brazil's real by 14 percent on average versus the euro in 2013, as the U.S. Federal Reserve tapering of its bond buying programme hit emerging market currencies.

"Brazil is characterized by high social mobility, so our aim is to remain one of the largest insurance players in Brazil," Frederic Lavenir, Chief Executive Officer, told journalists after the results.   Continuación...