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More layoffs in UAE as Zurich exits general insurance

Reports suggest that First Gulf Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered banks have collectively culled 350 jobs in November

Zurich Insurance Group will exit its general insurance business in the Middle East by the end of 2016, with a phased closing to new retail and small business customers from Monday (November 30), the company said in a statement to media.

With this move, it is expected that the UAE will see more job cuts this year after the media reports of local and international banks collectively slashing 350 jobs in the country earlier this month.

“These changes mean that a number of jobs will change or cease to exist, though it is unclear at this stage how many roles will be affected,” the insurer said.

Reports suggest that Abu Dhabi-listed First Gulf Bank (FGB) is said to have cut nearly 100 jobs, while HSBC and Standard Chartered banks have reduced the strength of their staff in the UAE by 150 and 100, respectively.

The Swiss insurer decided to shut the business in the UAE and other Middle Eastern states after a review found that there is limited growth potential for the company in contrast to investments and management required in the region’s markets. However, it will continue to run its life insurance business.

“This has been a difficult decision for Zurich, reflecting the challenges of building a strong and profitable franchise across multiple markets in the region in the current economic environment,” said Brian Reilly, CEO of Zurich’s general insurance business in the Middle East.

“Zurich deeply regrets the impact on our employees and the inconvenience to our general insurance customers and partners across the region.”