Geneva - Insurance giant Swiss Life on Wednesday posted better than expected first-half net profit, driven by strong growth in the Swiss market.
The group also said it was expanding its real estate management operations with the purchase of German company Corpus Sireo.
In the first six months of the year, Switzerland's largest life insurance company saw its net profit swell to 487 million Swiss francs (R5.7 billion), up 3.1 percent from the same period of 2013.
Analysts polled by the AWP financial news agency had expected to see a net profit of 466 million francs for the six-month period.
The insurer saw its premium income swell 4.2 percent year-on-year to 10.8 billion francs.
In Switzerland, by far its largest market, the group raked in 6.6 billion francs in premiums - up 12 percent.
Most of that - a full 5.9 billion francs - came from the business sector, but private client premiums also swelled 11 percent to 737 million francs, the company said.
In France, Swiss Life's key market abroad, the insurer also fared better than expected, with premiums growing 4.0 percent in local currencies to 2.4 billion francs.
That was offset somewhat by the German market, where premiums slumped 8.0 percent to 783 million francs.
But the company has plans to boost its German business in other ways, announcing separately on Wednesday the purchase of a major real estate asset management provider from three German savings banks.
The acquisition of Corpus Sireo, for 210 million euros, marks “an important step to extending our position as a leading provider in one of our core strategic areas, real estate asset management, from Switzerland and France to Germany,” Swiss Life's new chief executive Patrick Frost said in a statement.
The deal will be finalised during the second half of the year, if it gets the green light from competition authorities.
Corpus Sireo, which is based in Cologne, manages about 16 billion euros in real estate assets and generates annual revenues of around 16 million euros, Swiss Life said.
Following the news, the Swiss insurer saw its share price jump 7.30 percent to 226.50 francs a piece in early afternoon trading, as the Swiss stock exchange's main SMI index grew just 0.48 percent. - Sapa-AFP