Walter Jopp succeeds Barna as Zurich Global Life MEA CEO

Zurich International Life has named Walter Jopp to head up its Global Life operations in the Middle East and Africa, as chief executive, succeeding Jawed Barna, who is relocating to Germany to head up its life operations there, and also take on the role of deputy chief executive of the Zurich Group in Germany. 

In making the announcement in a statement on Wednesday, Zurich said it “reaffirm[ed]” the Swiss insurer’s “commitment to the region”.

Most recently, Jopp, pictured, who has been with Zurich for 22 years, had been head of market management for Zurich in the MEA region. Prior to that, he’d headed up the company’s  market management operations for Asia Pacific and the Middle East, where, Zurich said, he had been responsible for overseeing “several major strategic initiatives”.

Based in Dubai, Jopp will take responsibility for overseeing the growth and development of Zurich’s life business across the region, Zurich said. He reports to Matt Gosden, interim regional chief executive of Zurich’s Global Life Europe, Middle East & Africa operation.

In the statement, Gosden noted that the Middle East and African region was “key” for the company’s Global Life business, where Zurich has developed a “sizeable business and market share” over the years.

As reported, Zurich had a challenging year in 2015, posting a 53% fall in profit, and seeing its chief executive, Martin Senn, announce his plans to step down. (He was succeeded by Mario Greco, who came to Zurich from Generali.)

Like many other insurers in recent years, Zurich has been cutting costs and closing unprofitable operations, while at the same time expanding into areas that seem to be promising. The acquisition of Macquarie Life from Macquarie Group, unveiled earlier this year, and expected to complete later in 2016, is one example, as is a plan to buy Malaysia’s MAA Takaful.

As reported, a major reason for Zurich’s poor results last year was an explosion in the Chinese port city of Tianjin in August last year, which resulted in some US$275m in claims being filed.

The Group is headquartered in Zurich, where it was founded in 1872, is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange, and is among Switzerland’s largest insurers.

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