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ZFS profits up despite flat rates


ZURICH, Switzerland— Flat rates haven't kept Zurich Financial Services from recording record profits in 2006.

The Zurich-based insurer and reinsurer's net income reached $4.5 billion last year, a 41% increase from 2005.

A doubling of operating profits in Zurich's general insurance business to $3.8 billion along with strong performances from global life business and the company's Farmers Management Services unit helped Zurich earn the record profits.

Business operating profit also reached a new high of $5.9 billion in 2006, a 48% increase.

Zurich acknowledged in a statement that rates remained "broadly flat" across the group. Gross written premiums increased by 2% to $34.2 billion.

The insurer said that it expects to reap further benefits in 2007 from its $250 million investment in technology last year.

The company said it also expects to gain from changes aimed at increasing the efficiency of its distribution channels, a rigorous approach to product development and other initiatives.