Baloise has made a solid start to the Simply Safe: Season 2 strategic phase, with profit attributable to shareholders of CHF 287.1 million in the first half of 2022 (H1 2021: CHF 302.3 million). In spite of the challenging overall market conditions, all national Baloise companies contributed to this stable result. The net combined ratio in the non-life business rose to 91.9 per cent, a small year-on-year improvement of 0.4 percentage points that reflects our strong operational profitability. However, unfavourable capital market movements, negative currency effects and a severe winter storm in Belgium created headwinds. The total volume of business in the first half of the year came to CHF 5.4 billion, a fall of 7.5 per cent compared with the first six months of 2021. This was mainly attributable to currency effects, lower investment-type premiums and a decline in the life insurance business, where we continue to pursue a selective underwriting policy, especially in the Swiss group life business.
For the Simply Safe: Season 2 strategic phase that has now commenced, we have set ourselves even more ambitious targets than for the first phase. We are aiming to establish ourselves among the top 5 per cent of the best companies to work for in Europe, to gain 1.5 million new customers within four years and to generate CHF 2 billion in cash for our holding company. As we enter Simply Safe: Season 2, we are also setting the course for the future of Baloise, for example with regard to embedding sustainability in our business processes. Under our sustainability strategy, we are considering aspects such as the types of risk for which we can and should offer insurance cover in the future. This approach also serves to protect our operational profitability over the long term. One of our objectives in this field is to support our customers on their individual journey towards more sustainable practices. In addition, the launch of our carbon accounting project lays the foundation for a net-zero target that we intend to adopt by next year. Last but not least, we seek to ensure compliance with all upcoming sustainability disclosure requirements at European and Swiss level in order to continually improve transparency for our stakeholders. Moreover, Baloise elected a new Board of Directors in the first half of 2022. At the Annual General Meeting in May, lic. oec. HSG Claudia Dill and Dr. sc. nat. ETH Maya Bundt were elected as new members of the Board of Directors. The two new members bring strong insurance expertise and digital skills to the board and add younger, female voices to its composition. At a strategic level, we are also well positioned to tackle the challenges of the future.
Here, Baloise can build on its existing strengths. Our foundations remain very robust, as evidenced by the fact that the ratio determined by the Swiss Solvency Test is expected to be around 230 per cent as at the end of the first half of 2022 and thus higher than at the start of the year. In addition, Standard & Poor’s has confirmed its rating of A+ with a stable outlook for the Baloise Group. Standard & Poor’s awarded this credit rating in recognition of Baloise’s excellent capitalisation – which is comfortably above the AAA level according to the S&P capital model – as well as its high operational profitability, well-founded risk management and solid competitive position in its profitable core markets. At CHF 5,021.0 million, consolidated equity was lower at the end of the first half of 2022 than it had been at the end of the prior-year period (30 June 2021: CHF 7,100.8 million). This decline was attributable to the significant rise in interest rates in the reporting period, which led to downward adjustments of the valuation of fixed-income investments.
As we enter Simply Safe: Season 2, we are also setting the course for the future of Baloise.
The second half of 2022 will bring fundamental changes in the way in which Baloise presents itself in its core markets. Going forward, we will use Baloise as a single brand name in all markets. This consistent brand image encapsulates the core concept of Baloise’s Simply Safe: Season 2 strategy and also provides a visual representation of our strategic journey.
Based on our solid half-year financial results, our operating performance and the ongoing implementation of our Simply Safe: Season 2 strategic phase, we are confident that we will be able to maintain our long-standing, attractive dividend policy.
Basel, August 2022
Dr Thomas von Planta
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Gert De Winter