SCOR CEO Says Quantitative Easing Inflicts ‘Huge Costs’ on Euro Zone Insurers

By | March 6, 2015

The European Central Bank’s bond-buying plan may not help the region’s economic recovery while it makes the investment decisions harder for insurers and reinsurers, SCOR SE Chief Executive Officer Denis Kessler said.

“It’s too late, it has been badly tailored, it’s badly shaped,” Kessler, 62, said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Francine Lacqua and Guy Johnson on Thursday [March 5], referring to the ECB’s quantitative easing plan. “We pay a huge cost today because the return on the assets side is very low.”

ECB President Mario Draghi’s pledge to buy 60 billion euros ($66 billion) of assets a month through September 2016 may create bubbles in real estate or some equity markets, while squeezing returns on government bonds, Kessler said. That reduces an insurer’s investment options because European rules impose no capital charges on sovereign bonds while requiring “quite high” costs for investing in corporate bonds or equities, Kessler said.

SCOR, France’s largest reinsurer, doesn’t plan to tender government bonds to the ECB, Kessler said. The Paris-based company had 16.2 billion euros in invested assets at the end of December, about 33 percent of which was in government and similar bonds, according to its website.

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