QBE on track to meet guidance


Global insurer QBE Ltd is on track to meet its financial targets this year as it embarks on a major transformation plan.

Chairperson Belinda Hutchinson told shareholders at QBE's annual general meeting that while the insurer was disappointed with its 2012 result, things were looking brighter this year.

"We are at a stage in the global economic and insurance market cycle where there are encouraging signs of increasing premium rates, indications of positive economic growth in most of our key markets and improving investment markets, particularly longer term bond yields," she said.

"Results to date are on track to meet our targets for 2013 as advised to the market with the annual results in February."

QBE in February reported a full-year net profit of $US761 million and flagged major changes to its business to help save $US250 million in annual costs.

It expects to achieve a combined operating ratio of 92 per cent this year and an insurance profit margin of around 11 per cent.

But media reports have suggested that QBE could cut hundreds of jobs as part of its planned cost savings.

The insurer has yet to confirm how many jobs could be affected.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the QBE's shareholder meeting in Sydney on Wednesday, worried that the insurer may relocate 700 jobs from NSW to the Philippines.

The Finance Sector Union spokeswoman Leanne Shingles said QBE needed to stand by Australian jobs.

"QBE makes a lot of money from the Australian community," she told AAP.

"They market themselves as an Australian company. They support a lot of Australian sporting teams.

"Our message to them is if you really want to be an Australian company you have a responsibility to growing jobs and skills in Australia."

Chief executive John Neal did not discuss job losses in his speech to the meeting, but said QBE was reviewing all its businesses and insurance portfolios.

He said benefits from the cost saving program would begin to emerge at the end of 2013, with net gains expected the following year.

He also expects only modest growth in gross and net written premiums in 2013, with no major acquisitions planned.

Meanwhile, Ms Hutchinson said QBE would carry out a major review of its executive pay arrangements following shareholder concerns about performance hurdles.

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