Swiss insurers outline Greek debt exposures

29th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two of Switzerland's biggest insurers, Swiss Re and Zurich Financial Services, said Thursday they were exposed in varying degrees to Greek debt through hundreds of millions of euros of state bonds.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's this week downgraded Greece's sovereign credit rating to "junk" status, sowing panic on financial markets and sparking concern about a wider crisis after downgrades for Portugal and Spain too.

Swiss Re, one of the world's biggest reinsurers, said it held Greek state bonds valued at 482 million Swiss francs (324 million euros, 456 million dollars) at the end of 2009, as well as 127 million francs in Spanish bonds and 50 million francs in Portugal.

Zurich said in an e-mail statement to AFP that its Greek and Portuguese bond holdings were equivalent to less than 1.5 percent of its total state bond portfolio, less than 780 million dollars (553 million euros).

"Compared to a total (investment) portfolio of 196 billion dollars, these exposures are marginal," Zurich added.

The insurance firm also had Spanish bonds worth 2.6 billion dollars (2.0 billion euros) at the end of 2009, equivalent to about five percent of its total state bond investments of 56 billion dollars.

The share prices of both insurers were up 2.2 percent in afternoon trading (1400 GMT) on the Swiss exchange.

Credit Agricole, a leading French bank, said on Wednesday it had exposure of around 850 million euros (1.12 billion dollars) to Greek government debt, mainly through its Greek subsidiary Emporiki.

© 2010 AFP

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